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Copyright 3s? 








Authorized translation from the Spanish ( Cuentos de la Selva) 
by Arthur Livingston 



New York 



Copyright, iw?. by 

Printed in U. S. A . 

OCT -9 *22 




I. How the Rays Defended the Ford ... 5 

II. The Story of Two Raccoon Cubs and Two 

Man Cubs 33 

III. The Parrot That Lost Its Tail .... 55 

IV. The Blind Doe 73 

V. The Alligator War 91 

VI. How the Flamingoes Got Their Stockings 117 

VII. The Lazy Bee 131 

VIII. The Giant Tortoise's Golden Rule . . . 151 


“With a great roar an army of them came leaping 

down to the river bans” frontispiece 

“Nice bird! Nice bird!” he growled. “Please come a 

little closer” Facing page 60 

“The flamingoes . . . hopped down to the river, and 

waded out ... to relieve their pain” . Facing page 126 

“He could not help feeling sorry for the poor 

turtle ...” Facing page 154 





In South America there is a river called the 
Yabebiri; and it flows through the city of 
Misiones. In this river there are many rays, 
a kind of mud fish like the salt-water skate; 
and the river, indeed, gets its name from them: 
“Yabebiri” means the “river of ray fish.” 
The ray is a wide, flat fish with a long, slender 
tail. The tail is very bony; and when it 
strikes you it cuts, and leaves poison in the 

There are so many rays in the river that it 
is dangerous even to put your foot into the 
water. I once knew a man who had his heel 
pricked by a ray. He had to walk more 
than two miles home, groaning with pain all 
the way and fainting several times from the 
poison. The pain from a ray bite is one of 
the sharpest pains one can feel. 

But there are also other kinds of fish in the 



Yabebiri; and most of them are good to eat. 
That is why some evil men once began to fish 
for them with dynamite. They put the dyna- 
mite under water and set it off. The shock 
of the explosion stunned and killed all the 
fish nearby; and not only the big fish, but 
also the little ones, which cannot be eaten. 
It is very cruel and wasteful to hunt fish with 

However, there was a man who lived on the 
bank of the river; and he was sorry for the 
poor fish, especially the little ones; and he 
told the bad men that they must stop bomb- 
ing the fish. At first they were angry and 
said they would do what they liked. But 
the man was known everywhere to be an 
upright, honest man, and finally they obeyed 
him and set off no more bombs in the river. 

And the fish were grateful to this man, 
whom they had come to know the moment 
he approached the edge of the water. When- 
ever he walked along the bank smoking his 
pipe, the rays especially would swim along 


the bottom to keep him company. He, of 
course, did not know he had so many friends in 
the river. He lived there just because he 
liked the place. 

Now, it happened one afternoon that a fox 
came running down to the river; and putting 
his forepaws into the water he called: 

“Hey there, you ray fish!” Quick! Quick! 
Here comes that friend of yours! He’s in 

All the rays who heard came swimming up 
anxiously to the edge of the water. 

“What’s the matter? Where is he?” they 

“Here he comes!” answered the fox. “He 
has been fighting with a panther, and is trying 
to get away! He wants to get over to that 
island! Let him cross, for he is a very good 

' 'Of course we will ! Of course we will !” the 
rays answered. “As for the panther, we will 
fix him!” 

“Yes, but remember a panther is a 


panther!” said the fox; by which he meant 
that a panther is almost as hard to fight 
with as a tiger. And the fox gave a little jump 
and ran back into the woods, so as not to be 
near when the panther came. 

A second or two later, the branches along 
the river bank were pushed aside, and the 
man came running down to the water’s edge. 
He was all bleeding and his shirt was torn. 
From a scratch on his face the blood was 
streaming down off his chin, and his sleeves 
were wet with blood also. It was clear that 
the man was very badly hurt; for he almost 
fell as he ran out into the river. When he 
put his feet into the water, the rays moved 
aside so that their tails would not touch 
him; and he waded across to the island, with 
the water coming up to his breast. On the 
other side he fell to the ground fainting from 
loss of blood. 

The rays did not have much time to sit 
there pitying him. Some distance behind 
the man the panther came jumping along 


with great leaps to catch him. The big 
wildcat stopped on the bank, and gave a 
great roar; but up and down the river the 
rays went calling; “The Panther! The Pan- 
ther!” and they gathered together near the 
shore to attack him if he tried to cross. 

The panther looked up and down the 
stream, and finally he spied the man lying 
helpless on the island. He, too, was badly 
wounded and dripping with blood; but he 
was determined to eat the man at any cost. 
With another great howl, he leaped into the 

Almost instantly, however, he felt as though 
a hundred pins and needles were sticking 
into his paws. You see, the rays were trying 
to block the ford, and were stinging him with 
the stingers in their tails. He gave one big 
jump back to the river bank and stood there 
roaring, and holding one paw up in the air 
because it hurt him to step on it. After a 
moment he looked down into the water and 
saw that it was all black and muddy. The 


rays were coming in great crowds and stirring 
up the bottom of the river. 

“Ah hah!” said the panther: “Ah hah! I 
see! It is you, you bad, wicked ray fish! It 
was you who gave me all those stings! Well 
now, just get out of the way!” 

“We will not get out of the way,” answered 
the rays. 

“Away, I tell you!” said the panther. 

“We won’t!” said the rays. “He is a 
good man. It is not right to kill him!” 

“He gave me these wounds you see,” 
said the panther. “I must punish him!” 

“And you gave him his wounds, too,” 
said the rays. “But that is all a matter for 
you folks in the woods to settle. So long as 
this man is on the river, he is in our province 
and we intend to protect him!” 

“Get out of my way!” said the pan- 

“Not never!” said the rays. You see, 
the rays had never been to school; and they 
said “not never” and “not nothing” the 


way children sometimes do and never ought 
to do, not never! 

“Well, we’ll see!” said the panther, with 
another great roar; and he ran up the bank 
to get a start for one great jump. The 
panther understood that the rays were packed 
close in along the shore; and he figured that 
if he could jump away out into the stream 
he would get beyond them and their stingers, 
and finally reach the wounded man on the 

But some of the rays saw what he was going 
to do, and they began to shout to one another: 

“Out to mid-stream! Out to mid-stream! 
He’s going to jump! He’s going to jump!” 

The panther did succeed in making a very 
long leap, and for some seconds after he 
struck the water he felt no pain. He gave a 
great roar of delight, thinking he had deceived 
his enemies. But then, all of a sudden, sting 
here and sting there, in front, in back, on his 
sides ! The rays were upon him again, driving 
their poisonous stingers into his skin. For a 


moment, the panther thought it was as easy to 
go forward as back, and he kept on. But the 
rays were now all over along the island; 
so the panther turned and went back to 
the shore he had left. 

He was now about done. He just had to 
lie down on his side to keep the bottoms of 
his feet off the ground; and his stomach went 
up and down as he breathed deeply from 
fatigue and pain. He was growing dizzy, 
also, because the poison from the stings was 
getting into his brain. 

The rays were not satisfied, however. They 
kept crowding up along the shore because 
they knew that panthers never go alone, 
but always with a mate. This mate would 
come, and they would again have to defend 
the ford. 

And so it was. Soon the she-panther came 
down roaring through the bushes to rescue 
her husband. She looked across to the island 
where the man was lying wounded; and then 
at her mate, who lay there panting at her 


feet; and then down into the water, which 
was black with rays. 

“Ray fish!” she called. 

“Well, madam?” answered the rays. 

“Let me cross the river!” 

“No crossing here for panthers!” said the 

“I’ll bite the tails off every one of you!” 
said the she-panther. 

“Even without our tails, we won’t let you 
cross!” said the rays. 

“For the last time, out of my way!” said 
the she-panther. 

“Not never!” said the rays. 

The she-panther now put one foot into the 
water; but a ray struck at her with its 
stinger, and made a sting right between two 
of her toes. 

“Oooouch!” growled the she-panther. 

“We have at least one tail left!” mocked 
the rays. 

But the she-panther began to scowl now. 
When panthers are thinking very hard they 



scowl. This one scowled her face into deep 
wrinkles; which meant that she had a very 
important idea. She did not let on what it 
was, however. She just trotted off up the 
bank into the woods without saying another 

But the rays understood what she was up 
to. She was going to some place farther 
along the stream where there were no rays 
and would swim across before they could 
reach her. And a great fright came over 
them. Rays cannot swim very fast, and they 
knew that the she-panther would get there 
before they did. 

“Oh, oh!” they cried to each other. “Now 
our poor man-friend is done for. How can 
we let the rays down there know we must 
prevent the panther from crossing at any 

But a little ray, who was a very bright and 
clever little fish, spoke up and said: 

“Get the shiners to carry a message! 
Shiners can swim like lightning; and they 



too ought to be grateful to the man for 
stopping those bombs!” 

“That’s it! That’s it! Let’s send the 

A school of shiners happened to be just 
going by; and the rays sent them off with a 
message to all the rays along the river: 

“Sting the she-panther if she tries to cross! 
Hold the ford against the she-panther!” 

Though the shiners swam very, very fast, 
they were barely in time. The panther was 
already in the water, and had begun to swim 
out beyond her depth. In fact, she was 
almost over on the other side toward the 
island. But when her paws struck bottom 
and she began to wade again, the rays were 
on hand. They rushed in packs upon her 
legs and feet, stinging them with tens, hun- 
dreds, thousands of stings. At the same 
time more rays crowded in between the 
panther and the shore. Roaring with pain 
and anger, she finally swam back to the place 
where she had jumped in, and rolled about 


on the ground in agony. When she came 
back to where her husband was lying, her 
paws and legs were all swollen from the 

The rays, for their part, were getting very 
tired from all this stinging and hurrying to 
and fro. And they were not much relieved 
when they saw the panther and the she- 
panther get up all of a sudden and go off 
into the woods. What were they up to now? 
The rays were very much worried, and they 
gathered together in council. 

“Do you know what I think?” said the 
oldest ray. “I think they have gone off to 
get all the other panthers. When they come 
back, they will be too much for us and they 
will surely get across!” 

“That is so!” said the other rays, the older 
and more experienced ones. “At least one 
or two will get across. That will be the end 
of our friend, the man! Suppose we go and 
have a talk with him!” 

For the first time they now went over to 


where the man was lying. They had been too 
busy up to then to think of him. 

The man had lost a great deal of blood, and 
was still lying on the ground; but he was able 
to sit up enough to talk. The rays told him 
how they had been defending the ford against 
the panthers who had been trying to eat him. 
The man could hardly keep in his tears as he 
thought of the friendship these fishes had 
for him. He thanked them by reaching out 
his hand and stroking the nearest ones on 
the nose. But then he moaned: 

“Alas! You cannot save me! When the 
panthers come back there will be many of 
them; and if they want to get across they 

“No they can’t,” said a little ray. “No 
they can’t! Nobody but a friend of ours can 
cross this ford!” 

“I’m afraid they will be too much for 
you,” said the man sadly. After a moment’s 
thought he added : 

“There might be one way to stop them. 



If there were someone to go and get my 
rifle ... I have a Winchester, with a box of 
bullets . . . but the only friends I have near 
here are fish . . . and fish can’t bring me a 

“Well . . .?” asked the rays anxiously. 

“Yes . . . yes . . .” said the man, rubbing 
his forehead with his right hand, as though 
trying to collect his thoughts. “Let’s see . . . 
Once I had a friend, a river hog, whom I 
tamed and kept in my house to play with my 
children. One day he got homesick and went 
back to the woods to live. I don’t know 
what became of him . . . but I think he came 
to this neighborhood!” 

The rays gave one great shout of joy : 

“We know him! We know him! He 
lives in the cave just below here in the river 
bank. We remember now that he once told 
us he knew you very well. We will send him 
to get the rifle.” 

No sooner said than done! A shiner, who 
was the fastest swimmer in his school, started 


off down the river to where the river hog 
lived. It was not far away; and before long 
the river hog came up on the bank across 
the river. The man picked up a fishbone from 
the ground near him; and dipping it in some 
blood that was on his hand wrote on a dry 
leaf this letter to his wife: 

“Dear Wife: Send me my Winchester by 
this river hog, with a full box of a hundred 
bullets. (Signed) The Man.” 

He was just finishing the letter when the 
whole river valley began to tremble with the 
most frightful roars. The panthers were com- 
ing back in a large company to force a crossing 
and devour their enemy. Quickly two rays 
stuck their heads out of the water. The man 
handed them the leaf with the letter written 
on it; and holding it up clear of the water, 
they swam over to where the river hog was. 
He took it in his mouth and ran off as fast 
as he could toward the man’s house. 

And he had no time to lose. The roaring 
was now very close to the river and every 


moment it was getting nearer. The rays 
called anxiously to the shiners, who were 
hovering in the water nearby waiting for 

“Quick, shiners! Swim up and down the 
river, and give a general alarm! Have all 
the rays gather about the island on every 
side! We will see whether these panthers 
get across!” 

And up and down the river the shiners 
darted, streaking the surface with tiny black 
wakes, so fast did they move. The rays 
began coming out from the mud, from under 
the stones, from the mouths of the brooks, 
from all along the river. They assembled in 
solid masses, almost, around the island, bent 
on keeping the panthers back at whatever 
cost. And meanwhile the shiners came stream- 
ing up and down past the island, raising 
new recruits and ready to give the word when 
the panthers appeared. 

And the panthers did appear, at last. 
With a great roar an army of them came 


leaping down to the river bank. There were 
a hundred of them, perhaps; at least all the 
panthers in the woods around Misiones. But, 
on the other hand, the river was now packed 
with rays, who were ready to die, rather than 
let a single panther across. 

“Get out of our way!” roared the panthers. 

“No trespassing on this river!” said the 

“Gangway!” called the panthers. 

“Keep out!” said the rays. 

“If you don’t get out of the way, we will 
eat every ray, and every son of a ray, and 
every grandson of a ray, not counting the 
women and children!” said the panthers. 

“Perhaps,” said the rays; “but no 
panther, nor any son, grandson, daughter, 
granddaughter, sister, brother, wife, aunt 
or uncle of a panther will ever get across this 

“For one last time, get out of the way!” 

“Not never!” said the rays. 

And the battle began. 



With enormous bounds and jumps and 
leaps, the panthers plunged into the river. 
But they landed on an almost solid floor of 
ray fish. The rays plunged their stingers 
into the panthers’ feet, and at each prick the 
panthers would send up the most blood- 
curdling roars. Meanwhile the panthers were 
clawing and kicking at the rays, making 
frightful splashes in the water and tossing 
up ray fish by the barrel full. Hundreds and 
hundreds of rays were caught and torn by the 
panthers’ claws, and went floating down the 
Yabebiri, which was soon all tinged with 
ray blood. But the panthers were getting 
terribly stung, too; and many of them had 
to go back to the shore, where they lay roaring 
and whining, holding their swollen paws up in 
the air. Though many more of the rays were 
being trampled on, and scratched and bitten, 
they held their ground. Sometimes when a 
ray had been tossed into the air by a panther’s 
paw, he would return to the fight after he had 
fallen back into the water. 



The combat had now lasted as long as half 
an hour. By that time the panthers were 
tired out and had gone back to the shore 
they came from, where they sat down to 
rest and to lick the stings on their paws. 

Not one of them had been able to cross the 
ford, however. But the rays were in a terrible 
plight. Thousands of them had been killed; 
and those that still remained were about 
tired to death. 

“We cannot stand a second attack like 
this one,” said the rays. “Hey, shiners! 
Go up and down the river again, and bring 
us reenforcements ! We must have every single 
last ray there is in the Yabebiri!” 

And again the shiners were off up and down 
the river, flecking the surface of the water 
with the wakes they left. The rays now 
thought they should consult the man again. 

“We cannot hold out much longer!” said 
the rays. And some of them actually wept 
for the poor man who was going to be eaten 
by the panthers. 



“Never mind, please, my dear little rays!” 
answered the man. “You have done enough 
for me! It’s a pity that any more of you 
should die. Now you had better let the 
panthers come across.” 

“Not never!” cried the rays. “So long 
as there is a ray left alive, we shall defend the 
man who defended us and saved our lives from 
the bombers.” 

“My dear friends,” said the man in reply, 
“I think I am bound to die anyway, I am so 
badly wounded. But I can promise you that 
when that Winchester arrives, you will see some 
exciting things. That much I am sure of!” 

“Yes, we know! We know!” said the 
rays. But they could not continue the con- 
versation: the battle was on again. The 
panthers had now rested, and were crouching 
all on the river bank, ready to take off with 
great leaps and bounds. 

“We’ll give you one last chance!” they 
called to the rays. “Now be reasonable! 
Get out of our way!” 



“Not never!” said the rays, crowding up 
close along the shore in front of the panthers. 

In a flash, the panthers were in the water 
again, and the same terrible fight as before 
was taking place. The Yabebiri from shore 
to shore was one mass of bloody foam. Hun- 
dreds and hundreds of rays were tossed into 
the air, while the panthers bellowed from 
the pain in their paws. But not a panther 
and riot a ray gave an inch of ground. 

However, the panthers were little by little 
forcing their way forward. In vain the shiners 
darted up and down the river calling in more 
and more rays to battle. There were no 
rays left anywhere along the stream. Every 
last ray was either fighting desperately in the 
army around the island, or was floating 
bruised and bleeding down the current. Such 
as were still left were all but helpless from the 
fatigue of their great efforts. 

And now they realized that the battle was 
lost. Five of the biggest panthers had broken 
through the lines of the rays, and were swim- 


ming through clear water straight toward the 
island. The poor rays decided they would 
rather die than see their poor friend eaten by 
the panthers. 

“Retreat to the island!” they called to 
each other. “Back to the island!” 

But this was too late, alas. Two more 
panthers had now broken through the line; 
and when the rays started for the island, 
every last panther on the shore jumped into 
the water and made for the wounded man. 
Ten, twenty, fifty, perhaps a hundred panthers 
could be seen swimming with just their heads 
out of water. 

But what was that down there? The rays 
had been so busy fighting they had not 
noticed before. From a point on the shore 
some distance below the ford a brown, fuzzy 
animal had gone into the water, and had 
been swimming all this time toward the 
island. It was the river hog, paddling 
along as fast as he could with his head and 
neck out of the water and the Winchester in 



his mouth. He was holding his head away 
up like that to keep the rifle dry. On the 
end of the rifle hung the man’s cartridge belt, 
full of bullets. 

The man gave a great cry of joy; for the 
river hog was quite a distance ahead of the 
panthers, and he would be ashore by the time 
they began to wade again. And the river 
hog did get there in no time. The man was 
too weak to move much; so the river hog 
pulled him around by the collar so that he 
lay facing the panthers. In this position the 
man loaded the rifle and took aim. 

The rays, meanwhile, were heart broken. 
Crushed, scratched, bruised, bleeding, worn 
out from struggling, they saw that they had 
lost the battle. The panthers were almost 
over to the island. In a few moments their 
friend would be eaten alive! 

C-r-r-ack ! C-r-r-r-ack ! Bing ! Bing. The rays 
who had their eyes out of water suddenly 
saw a panther, who was just coming up out 
of the river toward the man, give a great leap 


into the air and fall back to the ground in 
a heap. 

The rays understood! “Hoo-ray! Hoo-ray 
Hoo-ray!” shouted the rays. “The man has 
the rifle! He is saved! We have won!” And 
they dirtied all the water, so much mud did 
they stir up by the dancing they started on 
the bottom of the river. C-r-r-r-ack! 
C-r-r-ack! Bing-g-g! Bing-g-g! The rifle kept 
going off and the bullets kept singing through 
the air. At each shot a panther fell dead on 
the sand or sank drowning under the water. 
The shooting did not last more than a minute 
and a half, however. After ten or a dozen 
panthers had been killed, the others swam 
back to the opposite shore and ran off into 
the woods. 

The panthers that were killed in the water, 
sank to the bottom where the horn-pouts 
ate them. Others kept afloat, and the shiners 
went down the Yabebiri with them, all the 
way to the Parana, having a great feast off 
panther meat, and jumping and hopping 


along the top of the water to express their 
delight. When the friends of the wounded 
man came to get him, they skinned the 
panthers that were lying on the shore; and 
the man’s wife had a set of new rugs for her 
dining room. 

Soon the man got well again. And the 
rays, who have a great many children each 
year, were as numerous as ever after one 
season. The man was so grateful for what 
they had done in trying to save his life, that 
he built a bungalow on the island and went 
there to live during his vacations. On nights 
in summer, when the moon was shining, he 
would go out in front of his bungalow and sit 
down on a rock over the water to smoke his 
pipe. The rays would creep up softly over 
the bottom and point him out to fish who 
did not know him. “There he is, see? The 
panthers came across over here; we stood in 
line over there. And when the panthers 
broke through, the man took his rifle, 
and . . . ” 




Once there was a mother raccoon who had 
three cubs; they all lived in the woods eating 
fruits and berries and birds’ eggs. Whenever 
they were on a tree top and heard a noise, 
they would jump head foremost to the ground 
and scamper off with their tails in the air. 

One day when the cubs had grown to be 
quite large sized raccoons, their mother took 
them up all together to the top of an orange 
tree — you must know that in South America 
orange trees, which came originally from 
Spain, now grow wild in the forest — and spoke 
to them as follows: 

“Cublets, you are almost big enough to be 
called raccoons; and it is time you began to 
hunt for your meals by yourselves. It is very 
important for you to know how to do this, 
because, when you get to be old, you will go 
around all alone in the world, as all raccoons 



do. The oldest of you likes snails and cock- 
roaches. He must hunt around woodpiles 
and under trunks of rotting trees, where 
there are always plenty of snails and cock- 
roaches. The next to the oldest of you seems 
to like oranges. Up to the month of December 
there will be plenty of oranges right here in 
this grove. The youngest of you is always 
asking for birds’ eggs. Well, there are birds’ 
nests everywhere. All he will have to do is 
hunt. But one thing, however: he must 
never go down to the farm looking for eggs. 
It is very bad for raccoons to go near farms. 

“Cublets, there is one thing more you 
must all be afraid of: dogs! dogs! Never go 
near a dog! Once I had a fight with a dog. 
Do you see this broken tooth? Well, I broke 
it in a fight with a dog! And so I know what 
I am talking about! And behind dogs come 
people, with guns, and the guns make a great 
noise, and kill raccoons. Whenever you hear 
a dog, or a man, or a gun, jump for your lives 
no matter how high the tree is, and run, run, 



run! If you don’t they will kill you as sure 
as preaching!” 

That is what the mother raccoon said to 
her cublets. Whereupon, they all got down 
from the tree top, and went each his own way, 
nosing about in the leaves from right to left 
and from left to right, as though they were 
looking for something they had lost. For 
that is the way raccoons hunt. 

The biggest of the cubs, who liked snails and 
cockroaches, looked under every piece of dead 
wood he came to and overturned the piles of 
dead leaves. Soon he had eaten such a fine 
meal that he grew sleepy and lay down in a 
nice cozy bed of leaves and went to sleep. The 
second one, who liked oranges, did not move 
from that very grove. He just went from 
one tree to another eating the best oranges; 
and he did not have to jump from a tree top 
once; for neither men, nor dogs, nor guns, 
came anywhere near him. 

But the youngest, who would have nothing 
but birds’ eggs, had a harder time of it. He 


hunted and hunted over the hillsides all day 
long and found only two birds’ nests — one 
belonging to a toucan, with three eggs in it, 
and the other belonging to a wood dove, with 
two eggs in it. Five tiny little eggs! That 
was not very much to eat for a raccoon almost 
big enough to go to school. When evening 
came the little cub was as hungry as he had 
been that morning; and he sat down, all cold 
and tired and lonesome, on the very edge of 
the forest. 

From the place where he was sitting he 
could look down on the green fields of the 
farm, and he thought of what his mother had 
said about such places. 

“Now, why did mamma say that? Why 
shouldn’t I go looking for eggs down along 
those fences on the farm?” 

And just as he was saying this all to himself, 
what should he hear but the song of a strange 
bird: “Cock-a-doodle-doo-oo-oo”; coming 
from far, far away and from the direction of 
the farmhouse. 



“My, did you ever hear a bird sing so 
loud?” said the cublet to himself. “What 
a big bird it must be! And its eggs must be 
the size of a cocoanut!” 

‘ ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo-oo-oo, ’ ’ came the bird’s 
song again. The hungry little raccoon just 
couldn’t do without one of those eggs the size 
of a cocoanut. The bird was singing some- 
where off to the right. So he made a short 
cut through the woods toward the field on the 
other side. 

The sun was setting, but the raccoon cub 
ran with his tail in the air. At last he came 
to the edge of the woods, and looked down 
again into the fields. 

‘ ‘Cock-a-doodle-doo-oo-oo !’ ’ 

Not far away now he could see the farm- 
house. There was a man in the yard. The 
man was wearing long boots, and leading a 
horse by the bridle into a barn. On the 
fence in the barnyard, the little raccoon saw 
his bird. 

“What a silly little ’coon I am,” he said to 



himself. “That isn’t a bird! That’s a rooster! 
Mamma showed him to me one day, when 
we were on top of a big tree up in the woods. 
Roosters have a fine song; and they have a 
great many hens that lay sweet eggs. I 
think I could eat a dozen of those eggs, right 

For some time the little raccoon sat looking 
at the rooster and the barn and the farm- 
house, and thinking of what his mother had 
said. But at last he thought: “Mamma is 
far away! She will never know”; and he 
made up his mind that as soon as it was 
dark he would run down to that hen coop 
and see what he could find. 

Before long the sun had gone completely 
and it was so dark you could hardly see your 
hand before your face. Walking on tiptoe, 
the little raccoon came out from the shadow 
of the woods, and began making his way to- 
ward the farmhouse. 

When he got into the yard, he stopped and 
listened carefully. Not a sound! The little 



raccoon was as happy as could be: he was 
going to eat a hundred, a thousand, two 
thousand of those eggs! He looked around 
for the hen coop. There it was! He stole up 
to the door and peered in. 

On the ground, and right in front of the 
door, what should he see but an egg? And 
such a large egg! If it was not as big as a 
cocoanut, it was at least as big as an orange! 
And how brightly it shone in the dark! 
“Guess I’ll keep that egg for dessert,” thought 
the cub for a moment. But his mouth began 
to water and water, and he simply couldn’t 
wait. He stepped up and put his front teeth 
into that egg. But — 


He had hardly touched it when there was a 
sharp snapping noise. The little raccoon 
felt a hard blow strike him in the face, 
while a stinging pain caught him in his right 

“Mamma! Mamma!” he called, jumping 
wildly this way and that. But he could not 


get his foot loose. He was caught in a trap! 
And just at that moment a dog began to 

All that time when the little raccoon had 
been waiting in the woods for night to come, 
so that he could go down to get his eggs in the 
hen coop, the man who owned the farm- 
house had been playing with his children on 
the lawn in the yard. One of them was a 
little girl five years old; and the other was a 
little boy six years old. Both had golden 
hair. They were chasing their father about 
and falling down every so often on the grass. 
Then they would get up again and run some 
more. The man would also pretend to fall 
and the three of them were having a splendid 

When it grew dark, the man said: 

“Now let’s go and set our trap in the hen 
coop, so that if the weasel comes to-night to 
kill our chickens and eat our eggs, we will 
catch him.” 

They went and set the trap. Then the 


family had dinner, and the little boy and the 
little girl were put to bed. 

But they were both very much excited about 
the trap and the weasel. They could not 
sleep. Finally they sat up in their beds and 
began to throw pillows at each other. Their 
father and mother were reading down in the 
dining room. They heard what the children 
were doing; but they said nothing. 

Suddenly the pillow-throwing stopped; and 
after a moment the little boy called: 

"Papa! Papa! The weasel is in the trap. 
Don’t you hear Tuke' barking? Let us go 
too, papa!” 

Tuke', you see, was the name of the dog! 

Their father said they might, provided 
they put their shoes on. He would never let 
them go out at night, barefooted, for fear of 
coral or rattlesnakes. 

So they went in their pajamas, just as they 

And what, if you please, did they find in the 
trap? Their father stooped down in the door- 


way of the hen coop, holding Tuke back by the 
collar. When he stood up, he was holding a 
little raccoon by the tail; and the little rac- 
coon was snapping and whistling and scream- 
ing “Mamma! Mamma!” in a sharp, shrill 
voice like a cricket’s. 

“Oh, don’t kill him, papa! He is such a 
pretty little ’coon!” said the boy and the 
girl. ‘ ‘Give him to us, and we will tame him!” 

“Very well,” said the father. “You may 
have him. But don’t forget that raccoons 
drink water when they are thirsty, the same 
as little boys and girls.” 

He said this because once he had caught a 
wildcat and given it to them for a pet. They 
fed it plenty of meat from the pantry. But 
they didn’t dream that it needed water. And 
the poor wildcat died. 

The cage where the wildcat had been kept 
was still standing near the hen coop. They 
put the raccoon into the cage, and went back 
into the house. This time, when they went 
to bed, they fell fast asleep at once. 



About midnight, when everything was still, 
the little raccoon, who had a very sore foot 
from the cuts made in it by the teeth of the 
trap, saw three shadows come creeping up 
toward his cage; for the moon was now 
shining faintly. They came closer and closer, 
moving softly and noiselessly over the ground. 
His heart gave a great leap when he dis- 
covered that it was his mother and his two 
brothers, who had been looking for him every- 

“Mamma! Mamma!” he began to cry 
from his cage, but soft-like, so as not to wake 
up the dog. “Here I am, here I am. Oh, 
get me out of here! I’m afraid! I’m afraid! 
Mamma! Mamma! Mamma!” The little 
raccoon was choking with tears ! 

The mother and the two brother raccoons 
were as happy as could be to find him! They 
rubbed their noses against him through the 
wires in the cage, and tried to stroke him 
with their paws. Then they set to work to 
get him out, if they could. First they exam- 


ined the wiring of the cage, and one after 
another they worked at it with their teeth. 
But the wire was thick and tough, and they 
could do nothing with it. Then an idea came 
to the mother raccoon. 

“People cut wires with files! Where can 
we get a file? A file is a long piece of iron with 
three sides, like the rattle of a rattlesnake. 
You push it away from you across the wire, 
and then you draw it toward you. Finally 
the wire breaks. Let’s hunt around in the 
blacksmith shop, and we may find one.” 

They hurried off to the shop where the 
farmer kept his tools. Soon they found the 
file and came back with it to the cage. Think- 
ing it must be very hard to file off a wire, they 
all took hold of the file and started pushing 
it back and forth between two of the wires. 
They pushed so hard that the cage began to 
shake all over and made a terrible noise. In 
fact, it made such a loud noise that Tuke woke 
up and set to barking at the top of his voice. 
The raccoons were frightened out of their wits; 



and for fear the dog might ask them where 
they got that file, they scampered off, with 
their tails in the air, toward the forest. 

The little boy and the little girl woke up 
very early in the morning to go to see their 
new pet, who had been brooding sadly in his 
cage all night long. 

“What shall we call him?” asked the little 

“Seventeen,” answered the little girl. “I 
can count to seventeen!” 

And what did “ Seventeen” have for break- 
fast? One of those hen’s eggs he had tried so 
hard to get the night before. And after the 
hen’s egg, a grasshopper, and then a piece of 
meat, and then a bunch of grapes and finally 
a lump of chocolate ! By the end of the day, he 
was letting the two children reach their finger 
through the cage to scratch his head; and so 
pleased was he at all that was now happening 
to him that he liked being a prisoner in a cage 
almost as much as being a free raccoon cub on 
the mountain side. He was all taken up with 


the nice things that were placed in his coop 
for him to eat; and he liked those two yellow- 
headed children who kept coming to look at 

That night and the following one, Tuke, 
the dog, slept so close to “Seventeen’s” cage 
that when his mother and his two brothers 
came back to make another try at rescuing 
him, they did not dare approach. But on the 
third night everything was as it should be. 
They went directly to the shop, got the file, 
and hurried to the cage. 

“But mamma,” said the little raccoon, 
“I guess I’d rather stay where I am. They 
feed me all the eggs I want, and they are very 
kind to me. Today they told me that if I 
was good, they would soon let me go about 
the yard loose. There are two of them, with 
yellow hair. And they are man cubs, just as 
we are ’coon cubs. We shall have a fine time 
playing together.” 

The three wild raccoons were very sad to 
hear all this; but they made the best of it, 



and went away, just promising to come back 
and see “Seventeen” every night. 

And so they did. Each evening, as soon 
as it was dark and whether it was fair or 
rainy, the mother raccoon came with her two 
cublets to see their little brother. He gave 
them bread and chocolate, which he handed 
out between the wires of his cage; and they ate 
it on the ground nearby. 

In two weeks, he was let loose to run about 
the yard; and every night he went back to his 
cage of his own accord to sleep. He had his 
ears tweeked a number of times, when the 
farmer caught him too close to the hen coop; 
otherwise he had no trouble at all. The two 
children became much attached to him; and 
when the wild raccoons heard how kind those 
man cubs were to their little brother, they 
began to be as fond of them as he was. 

But one night, when it was very dark and 
very hot and a thunderstorm was gathering 
on the mountains, the wild raccoons called 
to “Seventeen” in vain. “Seventeen! Seven- 



teen! Seventeen!” But he did not answer. 
In great alarm they crept up to the cage and 
looked in. 


They drew back just in time. There in the 
door of the cage a big rattlesnake lay coiled. 
They had almost touched him with their 
noses. And now they knew why ‘ ‘Seventeen’ ’ 
failed to answer! The rattlesnake had bitten 
him and probably he was already dead. 

The three raccoons decided they must first 
punish the rattlesnake. They rushed upon 
him from three directions and snipped his 
head off before he knew what they were about. 
Then they hurried inside the cage. “Seven- 
teen” was lying there on the floor in a pool of 
blood, his feet up in the air, and his sides 
shaking as he panted for breath. They 
caressed him with their tongues and licked 
his body all over for more than a quarter of an 
hour. But it did no good. “ Seventeen” 
finally opened his mouth and stopped breath- 
ing altogether. He was dead. Raccoons 


ordinarily are not much harmed by rattle- 
snake poison. Some other animals are not 
hurt at all. But this snake had bitten 
“Seventeen” right through an artery; and 
he had died, not of the poison, but from 
loss of blood. 

The mother raccoon and her two cublets 
wept over his body for a long time; then, since 
they could do nothing further for him, they 
left the cage where he had been so happy and 
went back to the woods. But they kept 
thinking all the time: “What will the two 
man cubs say when they find that their little 
playmate is dead? They will probably be 
very, very sad and cry a long time!” They 
had grown to love the man cubs just from 
what “Seventeen” had said of them; and one 
thought was in their three heads — to relieve 
the sorrow of the two man cubs as best they 

They talked the matter over earnestly; and 
at last they agreed to the following plan. 
The second youngest cublet' looked almost 


like the raccoon who was dead. He had the 
same markings, was about the same size, and 
carried himself in much the same way. Why 
shouldn’t he go and crawl into the cage, 
taking the place of his brother? The man 
cubs would probably be surprised; but 
nothing more. The four of them had talked 
about everything that went on at the farm 
so much, that the new raccoon could easily 
pretend he had been there all along. He 
might do it so well even, that the man cubs 
would not notice anything at all. 

So they ran back to the cage, and the little 
raccoon took the place of his dead brother. 
The mother raccoon and her remaining cub 
took hold of “Seventeen” with their teeth and 
dragged him away off to the woods, where 
they buried him under the leaves. 

The next day, the man cubs were surprised 
at a number of strange habits “Seventeen” 
seemed to have learned during the night. 
But the new cub was just as affectionate to 
them as the real “Seventeen” had been; and 


they never guessed what had happened. The 
two man cubs played about with the raccoon 
cub all day long as usual; and at night the 
two wild raccoons came to pay their usual 
visit. The tame raccoon saved bits of his 
boiled eggs for them each time; and they 
would sit down and eat them on the ground in 
front of the cage. He told them all that 
happened at the farm; and they told him all 
the news about doings in the woods. 




In the woods near a farm lived a flock of 
parrots. Every morning, the parrots went 
and ate sweet com in the garden of the farm. 
Afternoons they spent in the orange orchards 
eating oranges. They always made a great 
to-do with their screaming and jawing; but 
they kept a sentinel posted on one of the tree 
tops to let them know if the farmer was 

Parrots are very much disliked by farmers 
in countries where parrots grow wild. They 
bite into an ear of corn and the rest of the ear 
rots when the next rain comes. Besides, 
parrots are very good to eat when they are 
nicely broiled. At least the farmers of South 
America think so. That is why people hunt 
them a great deal with shotguns. 

One day the hired man on this farm man- 
aged to shoot the sentinel of the flock of 
parrots. The parrot fell from the tree top 



with a broken wing. But he made a good 
fight of it on the ground, biting and scratch- 
ing the man several times before he was made 
a prisoner. You see, the man noticed that 
the bird was not very badly injured; and he 
thought he would take it home as a present for 
the farmer’s children. 

The farmer’s wife put the broken wing in 
splints and tied a bandage tight around the 
parrot’s body. The bird sat quite still for 
many days, until he was entirely cured. Mean- 
while he had become quite tame. The children 
called him Pedrito; and Pedrito learned to 
hold out his claw to shake hands; he liked to 
perch on people’s shoulders, and to tweek 
their ears gently with his bill. 

Pedrito did not have to be kept in a cage. 
He spent the whole day out in the orange and 
eucalyptus trees in the yard of the farmhouse. 
He had a great time making sport of the 
hens when they cackled. The people of the 
family had tea in the afternoon, and then 
Pedrito would always come into the dining 



room and climb up with his claws and beak 
over the tablecloth to get his bread-and-milk. 
What Pedrito liked best of all was bread 
dipped in tea and milk. 

The children talked to Pedrito so much, and 
he had so much to say to them, that finally he 
could pronounce quite a number of words in 
the language of people. He could say: ‘ 'Good 
day, Pedrito!” and “nice papa, nice papa”; 
“papa for Pedrito!” “Papa” is the word for 
bread-and-milk in South America. And he 
said many things that he should not have; 
for parrots, like children, learn naughty words 
very easily. 

On rainy days Pedrito would sit on a chair 
back and grumble and grumble for hours at a 
time. When the sun came out again he 
would begin to fly about screaming at the top 
of his voice with pleasure. 

Pedrito, in short, was a very happy and a 
very fortunate creature. He was as free as a 
bird can be. At the same time he had his 
afternoon tea like rich people. 



Now it happened that one week it rained 
every day and Pedrito sat indoors glum and 
disconsolate all the time, and saying the 
most bitter and unhappy things to himself. 
But at last one morning the sun came out 
bright and glorious. Pedrito could not con- 
tain himself: “Nice day, nice day, Pedrito!” 
“Nice papa, nice papa,” “Papa for Pedrito!” 
“Your paw, Pedrito!” So he went flitting 
about the yard, talking gayly to himself, to 
the hens, to everyone, including the beautiful, 
splendid sun itself. From a tree top he saw 
the river in the distance, a silvery, shining 
thread winding across the plain. And he 
flew off in that direction, flying, flying, flying, 
till he was quite tired and had to stop on a 
tree to rest. 

Suddenly, on the ground far under him, 
Pedrito saw something shining through the 
trees, two bright green lights, as big as over- 
grown lightning bugs. 

“Wonder what that is?” thought Pedrito 
to himself. “Nice papa! Papa for Pedrito. 



Wonder what that is? Good day, Pedrito! 
Your paw, Pedrito! ...” And he chattered 
on, just talking nonsense, and mixing his 
words up so that you could scarcely have 
understood him. Meantime he was jumping 
down from branch to branch to get as close as 
possible to the two bright gleaming lights. 
At last he saw that they were the eyes of a 
jaguar, who was crouching low on the ground 
and staring up at him intently. 

But who could be afraid of anything on a 
nice day like that? Not Pedrito, at any rate. 
“Good day, jaguar!” said he. “Nice papaj 
Papa for Pedrito! Your paw, Pedrito!” 

The jaguar tried to make his voice as gentle 
as he could; but it was with a growl that he 
answered: “GOOD DAY, POLL-PARROT!” 

“Good day, good day, jaguar! Papa, papa, 
papa for Pedrito! Nice papa!” 

You see, it was getting on toward four 
o’clock in the afternoon; and all this talk 
about “papa” was intended to remind the 
jaguar that it was tea-time. Pedrito had 


forgotten that jaguars don’t serve tea, nor 
bread-and-milk, as a rule. 

“Nice tea, nice papa! Papa for Pedrito! 
Won’t you have tea with me today, jaguar?” 

The jaguar began to get angry; for he 
thought all this chatter was intended to make 
fun of him. Besides, he was very hungry, 
and had made up his mind to eat this garru- 
lous bird. 

“Nice bird! Nice bird!” he growled. 
“Please come a little closer! I’m deaf and 
can’t understand what you say.” 

The jaguar was not deaf. All he wanted 
was to get the parrot to come down one more 
branch, where he could reach him with his 
paws. But Pedrito was thinking how pleased 
the children in the family would be to see such 
a sleek jaguar coming in for tea. He hopped 
down one more branch and began again: 
“Nice papa! Papa for Pedrito! Come home 
with me, jaguar!” 

“Just a little closer!” said the jaguar. “I 
can’t hear!” 


'Nice Bird ! Nice Bird !” he growled, ‘"Please come a little closer.' 

* ■ 


And Pedrito edged a little nearer: “Nice 

“Closer still!” growled the jaguar. 

And the parrot went down still another 
branch. But just then the jaguar leaped high 
in the air — oh, twice, three times his own 
length, as high as a house perhaps, and 
barely managed to reach Pedrito with the 
tips of his claws. He did not succeed in 
catching the bird but he did tear out every 
single feather in Pedrito’s tail. 

“There!” said the jaguar, “go and get 
yourbread-and-milk! Nice papa! Nice papa! 
Lucky for you I didn’t get my paws on 

Terrified and smarting from pain, the par- 
rot took to his wings. He could not fly very 
well, however; for birds without a tail are 
much like ships without their rudders: they 
cannot keep to one direction. He made the 
most alarming zigzags this way and that, 
to the right and to the left, and up and down. 
All the birds who met him thought surely he 


had gone crazy; and took good care to keep 
out of his way. 

However, he got home again at last, and 
the people were having tea in the dining 
room. But the first thing that Pedrito 
did was to go and look at himself in the 
mirror. Poor, poor Pedrito! He was the 
ugliest, most ridiculous bird on earth! Not 
a feather to his tail! His coat of down all 
ruffled and bleeding! Shivering with chills 
of fright all over! How could any self- 
respecting bird appear in society in such 

Though he would have given almost any- 
thing in the world for his usual bread-and- 
milk that day, he flew off to a hollow euca- 
lyptus tree he knew about, crawled in through 
a hole, and nestled down in the dark, still 
shivering with cold and drooping his head 
and wings in shame. 

In the dining room, meantime, everybody 
was wondering where the parrot was. “Ped- 
rito! Pedrito!” the children came calling to 


the door. “Pedrito! Papa, Pedrito. Nice 
papa! Papa for Pedrito!” 

But Pedrito did not say a word. Pedrito 
did not stir. He just sat there in his hole, 
sullen, gloomy, and disconsolate. The chil- 
dren looked for him everywhere, but he did 
not appear. Everybody thought he had got- 
ten lost, perhaps, or that some cat had eaten 
him; and the little ones began to cry. 

So the days went by. And every day, at 
tea-time, the farmer’s family remembered 
Pedrito and how he used to come and have 
tea with them. Poor Pedrito! Pedrito was 
dead! No one would ever see Pedrito again! 

But Pedrito was not dead at all. He was 
just a proud bird; and would have been 
ashamed to let anybody see him without his 
tail. He waited in his hole till everybody 
went to bed; then he would come out, get 
something to eat, and return to his hiding 
place again. Each morning, just after day- 
light, and before anybody was up, he would 
go into the kitchen and look at himself in the 



mirror, getting more and more bad-tempered 
meanwhile because his feathers grew so slowly. 

Until one afternoon, when the family had 
gathered in the dining room for tea as usual, 
who should come into the room but Pedrito! 
He walked in just as though nothing at all 
had happened, perched for a moment on a 
chair back, and then climbed up the table- 
cloth to get his bread-and-milk. The people 
just laughed and wept for joy, and clapped 
their hands especially to see what pretty 
feathers the bird had. “Pedrito! Why Ped- 
rito! Where in the world have you been? 
What happened to you? And what pretty, 
pretty feathers!” 

You see, they did not know that they were 
new feathers; and Pedrito, for his part, said 
not a word. He was not going to tell them 
anything about it. He just ate one piece 
of bread-and-milk after another. “Papa, 
Pedrito! Nice papa! Papa for Pedrito!” Of 
course, he said a few things like that. But 
otherwise, not a word. 



That was why the farmer was very much 
surprised the next day when Pedrito flew 
down out of a tree top and alighted on his 
shoulder, chattering and chattering as though 
he had something very exciting on his mind. 
In two minutes, Pedrito told him all about 
it — how, in his joy at the nice weather, he 
had flown down to the Parana; how he 
had invited the jaguar to tea; and how the 
jaguar had deceived him and left his tail 
without a feather. “Without a feather, a 
single blessed feather!” the parrot repeated, 
in rage at such an indignity. And he ended 
by asking the farmer to go and shoot that 

It happened that they needed a new mat 
for the fireplace in the dining room, and the 
farmer was very glad to hear there was a 
jaguar in the neighborhood. He went into 
the house to get his gun, and then set out with 
Pedrito toward the river. They agreed that 
when Pedrito saw the jaguar he would begin 
to scream to attract the beast’s attention. 



In that way the man could come up close and 
get a good shot with his gun. 

And that is just what happened. Pedrito 
flew up to a tree top and began to talk as 
noisily as he could, meanwhile looking in all 
directions to see if the jaguar were about. 
Soon he heard some branches crackling under 
the tree on the ground; and peering down he 
saw the two green lights fixed upon him. 
“Nice day!” he began. “Nice papa! Papa 
for Pedrito! Your paw, Pedrito!” 

The jaguar was very cross to see that this 
same parrot had come around again and 
with prettier feathers than before. “You 
will not get away this time!” he growled to 
himself, glaring up at Pedrito more fiercely 
than before. 

“Closer! Closer! I’m deaf! I can’t hear 
what you say!” 

And Pedrito, as he had done the other time, 
came down first one branch and then another, 
talking all the time at the top of his voice: 

“Papa for Pedrito! Nice papa! At the 


foot of this tree! Your paw, Pedrito! At 
the foot of this tree!” 

The jaguar grew suspicious at these new 
words, and, rising part way on his hind legs, 
he growled: 

“Who is that you are talking to? Why do 
you say I am at the foot of this tree!” 

“Good day, Pedrito! Papa, papa for Ped- 
rito!” answered the parrot; and he came 
down one more branch, and still another. 

“Closer, closer!” growled the jaguar. 

Pedrito could see that the farmer was steal- 
ing up very stealthily with his gun. And he 
was glad of that, for one more branch and he 
would be almost in the jaguar’s claws. 

“Papa, papa for Pedrito! Nice papa! Are 
you almost ready?” he called. 

“Closer, closer,” growled the jaguar, get- 
ting ready to spring. 

“Your paw, Pedrito! He’s ready to jump! 
Papa, Pedrito!” 

And the jaguar, in fact, leaped into the air. 
But this time Pedrito was ready for him. He 


took lightly to his wings and flew up to the 
tree top far out of reach of the terrible claws. 
The farmer, meanwhile, had been taking care- 
ful aim; and just as the jaguar reached the 
ground, there was a loud report. Nine balls 
of lead as large as peas entered the heart of 
the jaguar, who gave one great roar and fell 
over dead. 

Pedrito was chattering about in great glee; 
because now he could fly around in the forest 
without fear of being eaten; and his tail 
feathers would never be torn out again. The 
farmer, too, was happy; because a jaguar 
is very hard to find anyway; and the skin of 
this one made a very beautiful rug indeed. 

When they got back home again, everybody 
learned why Pedrito had been away so long, 
and how he had hidden in the hollow tree to 
grow his feathers back again. And the chil- 
dren were very proud that their pet had 
trapped the jaguar so cleverly. 

Thereafter there was a happy life in the 
farmer’s home for a long, long time. But 


the parrot never forgot what the jaguar had 
tried to do to him. In the afternoon when tea 
was being served in the dining room, he would 
go over to the skin lying in front of the fire- 
place and invite the jaguar to have bread-and- 
milk with him: “Papa, nice papa! Papa 
for Pedrito! Papa for jaguar? Nice papa!” 

And when everybody laughed, Pedrito 
would laugh too. 




Once upon a time there was a deer — a doe — 
who gave birth to two little deers; and, as is 
very rare with such animals, the little deers 
were twins. However, a wildcat ate one of 
them; and the second, a female, had to live 
her childhood without a playmate. 

She was such a beautiful little creature, 
nevertheless, that all the mother deers in the 
forest wished she belonged to them; and to 
show their affection they were always nipping 
gently at her ribs with their lips. 

Every morning when the little deer got up 
out of bed, her mother would make her say 
the catechism which all deers learn when they 
are babies: 

I. I must smell of each green leaf before I 
eat it; because some green leaves are 

II. I must stop and look carefully up and 
down the brook before I lower my head to 



drink; for otherwise an alligator may eat 

III. I must lift my head every half hour and 
sniff carefully in all directions; otherwise a 
panther may steal up and catch me. 

IV. I must look ahead of me when I am 
grazing in a meadow; otherwise a snake may 
bite me. 

All good fawns learn this catechism by 
heart; and when this little deer could say it 
all by herself, her mother began to let her go 
away from home alone. 

One afternoon in summer, when the fawn 
was wandering over the mountain side look- 
ing for the tenderest tufts of grass, she saw a 
tree with a hollow trunk in front of her. Inside 
it a number of small slate-colored bags were 

“What in the world is that?” said the little 
deer to herself. She had never seen anything 
of just that kind! Now deers, like people, 
are inclined to be a bit disrespectful towards 
things they don’t understand. Those puffy 



slate-colored bags seemed to her about the 
most ridiculous things there was on earth! 
So she butted them with all her might. 

She now saw that she had made a great 
dent in the bags, which began to drip with 
drops of shining fluid. At the same time a 
swarm of reddish flies, with narrow waists, 
came out, buzzing around and walking about, 
over their broken nest. 

The little deer edged nearer. Curiously, 
those red flies did not seem to mind at all ! And 
what about that juicy-looking stuff? Care- 
fully, gently, the fawn stretched out her head 
till she was able to touch one of the drops 
of fluid with the tip of her tongue. 

What a surprise, what a wonderful surprise, 
for such a little, and such an inexperienced 
deer! She smacked her lips and licked her 
nose with her tongue, hurrying to lap up 
all the drops she could find. For they 
were honey, honey of the sweetest kind. 
And the red flies were bees! They did not 
sting because they had no stingers! There 



are bees like that, you know, in South 

Not content with the few drops that were 
slowly oozing out of the cracks in the bags, 
the little deer now broke all the nests down 
and ate every bit of the honey in them; then, 
leaping and jumping with pride and delight, 
she hurried home to tell her mother all about 

But the mother deer frowned severely: 

“Look out for bees’ nests, my child!” she 
exclaimed earnestly. “Honey is very good 
to eat; but it is dangerous to get at it. Keep 
away from all the nests you see!” 

“But bees don’t sting, mamma!” the little 
deer objected gleefully. “Hornets sting, and 
wasps sting; but bees, no!” 

“That isn’t so, my dear!” the mother 
answered. “You had good luck, that’s all. 
Bees are quite as bad as wasps. Now mind 
me, child, or some day you’ll be sorry.” 

“All right, mamma, I’ll be careful,” said the 
little deer. 



But the first thing she did the very next 
morning was to take one of the paths that 
people had made over the mountains. She 
had figured out that, running along in the 
open, she could cover more ground and see 
the bees’ nests better! 

And at last the search of the little deer was 
successful. She came upon a nest of bees — 
as she thought — black ones this time, with 
yellow sashes about their belts; and many of 
them were walking over the outside of the 
nest. The nest, also, was of a different color, 
and much larger than the bags the little deer 
had found the day before. But such things 
made no difference to her. “If the nest is 
larger,” she concluded simply, “the honey 
is probably sweeter and there’s more of 

But then she suddenly remembered all that 
her mother had said. “Oh, mother is too 
afraid! All mothers are too afraid!” And 
she finished by giving a lusty butt at the 



In a second or two she had bitterly repented 
of her folly. The “bees” were ordinary bees 
and there were thousands of them. They 
rushed forth from the nest in a great swarm, 
settled all over the head, neck, and shoulders 
of the little deer, and even under her belly 
and on her tail. And they stung her all over, 
but worst of all about the eyes. There were 
more than ten stings to each eye! 

The little deer, wild with pain and fright, 
began to run screaming away. She ran and 
ran. But finally she had to stop, because 
she could no longer see where she was going. 
Her eyes were all swollen; so swollen she 
could not open them. Trembling with 
fear and smarting with pain, she stopped 
where she was and began to cry pite- 

“Mamma! . . . Mamma!” 

The mother deer was much worried when 
the afternoon wore on and her child did not 
come home; and at last she started out to 
look for her, following by smell, as deers can, 


the tracks of her little one over the hillsides. 
What was her despair when, finally, she heard 
the disobedient fawn weeping in the distance; 
and how much blacker her despair became 
when she found that the child was blind! 

Slowly the two deers started home again, 
the fawn’s nose resting on her mother’s hip. 
And along the road all the old bucks and does 
came up to examine the little one’s eyes and 
give their opinions as to a cure. The mother 
deer did not know what to do. She had no 
plasters nor poultices to soothe the pain in 
her child’s eyes. She learned ultimately that 
across the mountains lived a man who was 
skillful with remedies. This man was a 
hunter, and traded in venison. But, from 
all reports, she concluded that he was quite a 
kind-hearted person. 

Though the doe shivered at the thought of 
visiting a man who made his living on the 
slaughter of deer, she was willing to risk any- 
thing for her offspring. However, she had 
never met the man personally, and she thought 


it best to ask for a letter of introduction from 
the Anteater, who was supposed to be on 
very good terms with all the human kind. 

It was night; and the panthers and wild- 
cats were rampant through all the forest; but 
the mother deer did not wait an instant. 
She covered her little one carefully with 
branches so that no one could find her, and 
then made off toward the Anteater’s house. 
She went so fast and so far that she was faint 
with fatigue when she arrived there; and 
once, on the road, she escaped only by 
merest chance from the fangs of a mountain 

The Anteater was one of the smaller mem- 
bers of his tribe — a yellow little fellow with a 
black cape thrown over his shoulders and 
reaching down to the waist, where it was tied 
under his belly with black strings. 

Just how or why the Anteater became so 
friendly with the hunter, no one in the forest 
knew; but some day the truth will be known, 



At any rate, the poor doe arrived at the 
house where the Anteater lived. 

“Tan! Tan! Tan!” she knocked, panting. 

“Who’s that?” answered the Anteater 

“It’s me!” said the doe; though she cor- 
rected herself almost immediately, and 
said: “It is I — a deer, the mother of the 

“I see,” said the Anteater. “So it’s 
you! Well, what do you want?” 

“I want you to introduce me to the hunter. 
The fawn, my daughter, is blind!” 

“You don’t say so? That little fawn that 
everybody makes so much of? She’s a dear 
little thing! I don’t have to be asked twice 
to do a favor when that child is concerned! 
I’ll introduce you gladly. But you won’t 
need a letter. Just show the man this, and 
he’ll do all you ask.” 

The Anteater rummaged around in the 
leaves for a while and at last stretched his 
tail out. On the tip of it was the head of a 


snake, completely dried, and with the poison 
fangs still in it. 

“Thanks ever so much/’ exclaimed the 
doe. “But that man is a venison hunter! 
Do you think this is all I need?” 

“Quite!” the Anteater averred. 

“You are a very kind-hearted Anteater,” 
the doe replied, her eyes filling with tears. But 
she did not prolong the conversation. It 
was getting to be very late, and she had to be 
at the hunter’s lodge by daybreak. 

She hurried back to her house and got the 
fawn, who still lay there weeping in her bed. 
Together they made their way toward the 
village where the hunter lived. They stole 
along very softly, keeping close to the walls of 
the houses, so that the dogs would not see nor 
hear them. 

At the door of the hunter’s cottage the 
mother knocked loudly: 

“Tan! Tan! Tan!” 

And the little deer knocked as loudly as she 



“Ta! Ta! Ta!” 

“Who’s there?” a voice called from within. 

“It’s us,” said the fawn. 

“It’s we,” corrected the mother. “We 
are friends of the Anteater, and we have the 
snake’s head!” 

“I see,” said the hunter opening the door. 
“What can I do for you?” 

“My daughter, this little fawn here, is 
blind. Can you help her?” 

And the mother deer told the whole story 
about her child and the bees. 

“Hum!” said the man. “Just let me see 
what ails this nice young lady!” 

Reentering the cottage, the hunter soon 
came back with a rather high stool, on which 
he set the fawn in such a manner that he 
could examine her eyes without bending over. 
Then he took out a big lens and began to 
look at the stings, while the mother deer 
stood by, holding a lantern around her neck 
so that the “doctor” could see better. For 
the sun had not yet risen. 



“Oh, there’s nothing to worry about,” the 
hunter said to the fond parent, helping her 
little one out of the chair. “ It’s only a 
matter of time and care. Wrap her head up, 
and keep a bandage with this ointment across 
her eyes. Then keep her in the dark for 
twenty days. After that, have her wear these 
yellow glasses for a week or two; and by that 
time she will be all right.” 

“Thanks, many, many thanks,” said the 
mother deer warmly and gratefully. “And 
now, sir, how much do I owe you?” 

“Nothing at all, nothing at all, madam,” 
the hunter replied with a smile. “But one 
thing more: look out for the dogs in the 
next house. A man lives there who keeps 
hounds especially for chasing deer.” 

At this news the mother deer and her child 
were so scared they hardly dared breathe; 
and as they went away they walked on tiptoe, 
and stopped every few feet. Even at that the 
dogs heard them and gave chase for nearly a 
mile into the forest. But the mother deer 


found a narrow path, opening into the bush 
where the blind fawn could run quite safely; 
and they made good their escape. 

The little deer got well, just as the hunter 
had said she would; though the care and 
trouble it cost the mother to keep her fawn 
shut up for twenty long days inside a hollow 
tree, she only knew. Inside there you could 
not have seen your hand before your face! 
But at last, one morning, the mother deer 
brushed aside the branches she had woven 
across the hole in the tree so tightly as to 
keep out all light; and the fawn, now with the 
yellow glasses on her nose, came out into the 
broad day. 

“Oh, I can see now, mamma, I can see all 

And the mother deer, to tell the truth, had 
to go and hide her head in a clump of bushes 
to conceal the tears of joy that came to 
her eyes when she saw her little one cured 
at last. In two weeks, the glasses were laid 



As time wore on, the fawn, though happy 
to be quite herself again, began to grow sad. 
She was anxious to repay the hunter for his 
kindness to her; and she could think of no 
possible way of doing it. 

One day, however, an idea occurred to her. 
As she was trotting along the shore of a pond 
she came upon a feather which a blue heron 
had let fall there. “I wonder if that good 
man would like it?” she thought. And she 
picked it up. 

Then, one night when it was raining hard 
and the dogs would probably be under cover, 
she started out for the hunter’s cottage. 

The man was reading in his bedroom, 
feeling quite cozy besides, for he had just 
completed a thatched roof for his cabin when 
the rain began. Now he was quite safe and 
dry out of reach of the storm. 

“Tan! Tan! Tan!” 

When he opened the door, the little deer, 
whom he had treated and of whom he had 
often thought since then, was standing there 


in the rain, with the heron’s plume, all wet 
and drooping, in her mouth. 

“Here is something I have brought for 
you,” the fawn explained. 

But the hunter began to laugh. 

The little deer went off home in great shame 
and sorrow. She thought the man had 
laughed in ridicule of her poor gift! So 
thereafter she went looking for a better, bigger 
feather to give her benefactor; and this time 
she found some plumes that were truly 
splendid ones; and she was careful to keep 
them clean and dry. 

Again she went back, one night, to the 
hunter’s cabin; and this time he did not 
laugh. He was a courteous, polite man; 
and he understood that, the other time, he 
had hurt his little friend’s feelings by laughing 
at her. Instead, he now invited her indoors, 
drew the high chair up to the table and gave 
her a saucerful of honey. Gobble, gobble! 
The little deer lapped the sweet up in mad 



From that time on, the two became great 
friends. The fawn spent a great deal of her 
time collecting heron plumes, which the man 
sold for a large sum of money. And every 
time she came in with a feather, the hunter 
gave her a jar of honey; and occasionally he 
offered her a cigar, which the little deer ate, 
but, of course, did not smoke. Smoking is 
bad even for deers. 

Whole nights the two friends thus spent 
together, talking in front of the open fire, 
while the wind was howling outside; for the 
deer made her visits only in stormy weather 
when dogs would be sure not to be about. In 
a short time whenever the skies were dark and 
gave promise of a bad night, the hunter began 
to expect these visits. He would light a 
lamp, set a jar of honey on the table, take out 
a book and begin to read, waiting for the 
“Tan! Tan! Tan!” of the little deer, who 
remained his loyal friend all her life. 




It was a very big river in a region of South 
America that had never been visited by white 
men; and in it lived many, many alligators — 
perhaps a hundred, perhaps a thousand. 
For dinner they ate fish, which they caught in 
the stream, and for supper they ate deer and 
other animals that came down to the water 
side to drink. On hot afternoons in summer 
they stretched out and sunned themselves on 
the bank. But they liked nights when the 
moon was shining best of all. Then they 
swam out into the river and sported and 
played, lashing the water to foam with their 
tails, while the spray ran off their beautiful 
skins in all the colors of the rainbow. 

These alligators had lived quite happy 
fives for a long, long time. But at last one 
afternoon, when they were all sleeping on the 
sand, snoring and snoring, one alligator woke 
up and cocked his ears — the way alligators 



cock their ears. He listened and listened, 
and, to be sure, faintly, and from a great 
distance, came a sound: Chug! Chug! Chug! 

“Hey!” the alligator called to the alli- 
gator sleeping next to him, “Hey! Wake up! 

“Danger of what?” asked the other, open- 
ing his eyes sleepily, and getting up. 

“I don’t know!” replied the first alligator. 

‘ ‘That’s anoiselnever heard before. Listen!’ ’ 

The other alligator listened: Chug! Chug! 

In great alarm the two alligators went call- 
ing up and down the river bank: “Danger! 
Danger!” And all their sisters and brothers 
and mothers and fathers and uncles and 
aunts woke up and began running this way 
and that with their tails curled up in the air. 
But the excitement did not serve to calm their 
fears. Chug! Chug! Chug! The noise was 
growing louder every moment; and at last, 
away off down the stream, they could see 
something moving along the surface of the 



river, leaving a trail of gray smoke behind it 
and beating the water on either side to foam: 
Chush! Chush! Chush! 

The alligators looked at each other in the 
greatest astonishment: “What on earth is 

But there was one old alligator, the wisest 
and most experienced of them all. He was so 
old that only two sound teeth were left in his 
jaws — one in the upper jaw and one in the 
lower jaw. Once, also, when he was a boy, 
fond of adventure, he had made a trip down 
the river all the way to the sea. 

“I know what it is,” said he. “It’s a 
whale. Whales are big fish, they shoot water 
up through their noses, and it falls down on 
them behind.” 

At this news, the little alligators began to 
scream at the top of their lungs, “It’s a whale! 
It’s a whale! It’s a whale!” and they made for 
the water intending to duck out of sight. 

But the big alligator cuffed with his tail a 
a little alligator that was screaming nearby 



with his mouth open wide. “Dry up!” said 
he. “There’s nothing to be afraid of! I 
know all about whales! Whales are the 
afraidest people there are!” And the lit- 
tle alligators stopped their noise. 

But they grew frightened again a moment 
afterwards. The gray smoke suddenly turned 
to an inky black, and the Chush! Chush! 
Chush! was now so loud that all the alligators 
took to the water, with only their eyes and the 
tips of their noses showing at the surface. 

Cho-ash-h-h! Cho-ash-h-h! Cho-ash-h-h! 
The strange monster came rapidly up the 
stream. The alligators saw it go crashing 
past them, belching great clouds of smoke 
from the middle of its back, and splashing 
into the water heavily with the big revolving 
things it had on either side. 

It was a steamer, the first steamer that had 
ever made its way up the Parana. Chush! 
Chush! Chush! It seemed to be getting 
further away again. Chug! Chug! Chug! 
It had disappeared from view. 



One by one, the alligators climbed up out 
of the water onto the bank again. They were 
all quite cross with the old alligator who had 
told them wrongly that it was a whale. 

"It was not a whale!” they shouted in his 
ear — for he was rather hard of hearing. ‘ ‘Well, 
what was it that just went by?” 

The old alligator then explained that it was 
a steamboat full of fire; and that the alli- 
gators would all die if the boat continued to 
go up and down the river. 

The other alligators only laughed, how- 
ever. Why would the alligators die if the 
boat kept going up and down the river? It 
had passed by without so much as speaking 
to them! That old alligator didn’t really 
know so much as he pretended to ! And since 
they were very hungry they all went fishing in 
the stream. But alas! There was not a fish 
to be found! The steamboat had frightened 
every single one of them away. 

"Well, what did I tell you?” said the old 
alligator. "You see: we haven’t anything 



left to eat! All the fish have been frightened 
away! However — let’s just wait till tomor- 
row. Perhaps the boat won’t come back 
again. In that case, the fish will get over 
their fright and come back so that we can eat 
them.” But the next day, the steamboat 
came crashing by again on its way back 
down the river, spouting black smoke as it 
had done before, and setting the whole river 
boiling with its paddle wheels. 

“Well!” exclaimed the alligators. “What 
do you think of that? The boat came yester- 
day. The boat came today. The boat will 
come tomorrow. The fish will stay away; 
and nothing will come down here at night to 
drink. We are done for!” 

But an idea occurred to one of the brighter 
alligators: “Let’s dam the river!” he pro- 
posed. “The steamboat won’t be able to 
climb a dam!” 

“That’s the talk! That’s the talk! Adam! 
A dam! Let’s build a dam!” And the alligators 
all made for the shore as fast as they could. 



They went up into the woods along the 
bank and began to cut down trees of the 
hardest wood they could find — walnut and 
mahogany, mostly. They felled more than 
ten thousand of them altogether, sawing the 
trunks through with the kind of saw that 
alligators have on the tops of their tails. 
They dragged the trees down into the water 
and stood them up about a yard apart, all 
the way across the river, driving the pointed 
ends deep into the mud and weaving the 
branches together. No steamboat, big or 
little, would ever be able to pass that dam! 
No one would frighten the fish away again! 
They would have a good dinner the following 
day and every day! And since it was late at 
night by the time the dam was done, they 
all fell sound asleep on the river bank. 

Chug! Chug! Chug! Chush! Chush! Chush! 
Cho-ash-h-h-h! Cho-ash-h-h-h! Cho-ash-h-h-h! 

They were still asleep, the next day, when 
the boat came up; but the alligators barely 
opened their eyes and then tried to go to 



sleep again. What did they care about the 
boat? It could make all the noise it wanted, 
but it would never get by the dam! 

And that is what happened. Soon the 
noise from the boat stopped. The men who 
were steering on the bridge took out their 
spy-glasses and began to study the strange 
obstruction that had been thrown up across 
the river. Finally a small boat was sent to 
look into it more closely. Only then did the 
alligators get up from where they were sleep- 
ing, run down into the water, and swim out 
behind the dam, where they lay floating and 
looking downstream between the piles. They 
could not help laughing, nevertheless, at the 
joke they had played on the steamboat! 

The small boat came up, and the men in it 
saw how the alligators had made a dam across 
the river. They went back to the steamer, 
but soon after, came rowing up toward the 
dam again. 

“Hey, you, alligators!” 

“What can we do for you?” answered the 



alligators, sticking their heads through be- 
tween the piles in the dam. 

“That dam is in our way!” said the 

“Tell us something we don’t know!” an- 
swered the alligators. 

“But we can’t get by!” 

“I’ll say so!” 

“Well, take the old thing out of the way!” 


The men in the boat talked it over for a 
while and then they called: 


“What can we do for you?” 

“Will you take the dam away?” 




‘ ‘Very well ! See you later !’ ’ 

“The later the better,” said the alligators. 

The rowboat went back to the steamer, 
while the alligators, as happy as could be, 
clapped their tails as loud as they could on 



the water. No boat could ever get by that 
dam, and drive the fish away again! 

But the next day the steamboat returned; 
and when the alligators looked at it, they 
could not say a word from their surprise: 
it was not the same boat at all, but a larger 
one, painted gray like a mouse! How many 
steamboats were there, anyway? And this 
one probably would want to pass the dam! 
Well, just let it try! No, sir! No steamboat, 
little or big, would ever get through that dam! 

“They shall not pass!” said the alligators, 
each taking up his station behind the piles in 
the dam. 

The new boat, like the other one, stopped 
some distance below the dam; and again a 
little boat came rowing toward them. This 
time there were eight sailors in it, with one 
officer. The officer shouted : 

“Hey, you, alligators!” 

“What’s the matter?” answered the alli- 

“Going to get that dam out of there?” 






“Very well!” said the officer. “In that 
case, we shall have to shoot it down!” 

“Shoot it up if you want to!” said the 

And the boat returned to the steamer. 

But now, this mouse-gray steamboat was 
not an ordinary steamboat: it was a warship, 
with armor plate and terribly powerful guns. 
The old alligator who had made the trip to 
the river mouth suddenly remembered, and 
just in time to shout to the other alligators: 
“Duck for your lives! Duck! She’s going 
to shoot! Keep down deep under water.” 

The alligators dived all at the same time, 
and headed for the shore, where they halted, 
keeping all their bodies out of sight except for 
their noses and their eyes. A great cloud of 
flame and smoke burst from the vessel’s side, 
followed by a deafening report. An immense 
solid shot hurtled through the air and struck 


the dam exactly in the middle. Two or three 
tree trunks were cut away into splinters and 
drifted off downstream. Another shot, a 
third, and finally a fourth, each tearing a 
great hole in the dam. Finally the piles were 
entirely destroyed; not a tree, not a splinter, 
not a piece of bark, was left; and the alli- 
gators, still sitting with their eyes and noses 
just out of water, saw the warship come steam- 
ing by and blowing its whistle in derision at 

Then the alligators came out on the bank 
and held a council of war. “Our dam was not 
strong enough,” said they; “we must make 
a new and much thicker one.” 

So they worked again all that afternoon 
and night, cutting down the very biggest trees 
they could find, and making a much better 
dam than they had built before. When the 
gunboat appeared the next day, they were 
sleeping soundly and had to hurry to get 
behind the piles of the dam by the time the 
rowboat arrived there. 



“Hey, alligators!” called the same officer. 

“See who’s here again!” said the alligators, 

“Get that new dam out of there!” 

“Never in the world!” 

“Well, we’ll blow it up, the way we did the 

“Blaze away, and good luck to you!” 

You see, the alligators talked so big because 
they were sure the dam they had made this 
time would hold up against the most terrible 
cannon balls in the world. And the sailors 
must have thought so, too; for after they had 
fired the first shot a tremendous explosion 
occurred in the dam. The gunboat was 
using shells, which burst among the timbers 
of the dam and broke the thickest trees into 
tiny, tiny bits. A second shell exploded right 
near the first, and a third near the second. 
So the shots went all along the dam, each 
tearing away a long strip of it till nothing, 
nothing, nothing was left. Again the warship 
came steaming by, closer in toward shore on 



this occasion, so that the sailors could make 
fun of the alligators by putting their hands to 
their mouths and holloing. 

“So that’s it!” said the alligators, climbing 
up out of the water. “We must all die, 
because the steamboats will keep coming and 
going, up and down, and leaving us not a 
fish in the world to eat!” 

The littlest alligators were already whimper- 
ing; for they had had no dinner for three days ; 
and it was a crowd of very sad alligators that 
gathered on the river shore to hear what the 
old alligator now had to say. 

“We have only one hope left,” he began. 
“We must go and see the Sturgeon! When 
I was a boy, I took that trip down to the sea 
along with him. He liked the salt water 
better than I did, and went quite a way out 
into the ocean. There he saw a sea fight be- 
tween two of these boats; and he brought 
home a torpedo that had failed to explode. 
Suppose we go and ask him to give it to us. 
It is true the Sturgeon has never liked us 


alligators; but I got along with him pretty 
well myself. He is a good fellow, at bottom, 
and surely he will not want to see us all 

The fact was that some years before an 
alligator had eaten one of the Sturgeon’s 
favorite grandchildren; and for that reason 
the Sturgeon had refused ever since to call on 
the alligators or receive visits from them. 
Nevertheless, the alligators now trouped off 
in a body to the big cave under the bank of the 
river where they knew the Sturgeon stayed, 
with his torpedo beside him. There are 
sturgeons as much as six feet long, you know, 
and this one with the torpedo was of that kind. 

“Mr. Sturgeon! Mr. Sturgeon!” called 
the alligators at the entrance of the cave. 
No one of them dared go in, you see, on 
account of that matter of the sturgeon’s 

“Who is it?” answered the Sturgeon. 

“We’re the alligators,” the latter replied 
in a chorus. 



“I have nothing to do with alligators,” 
grumbled the Sturgeon crossly. 

But now the old alligator with the two 
teeth stepped forward and said: 

“Why, hello, Sturgy. Don’t you remember 
Ally, your old friend that took that trip down 
the river, when we were boys?” 

“Well, well! Where have you been keeping 
yourself all these years,” said the Sturgeon, 
surprised and pleased to hear his old friend’s 
voice. “Sorry I didn’t know it was you! 
How goes it? What can I do for you?” 

“We’ve come to ask you for that torpedo 
you found, remember? You see, there’s a 
warship keeps coming up and down our 
river scaring all the fish away. She’s a 
whopper, I’ll tell you, armor plate, guns, the 
whole thing! We made one dam and she 
knocked it down. We made another and she 
blew it up. The fish have all gone away and 
we haven’t had a bite to eat in near onto a 
week. Now you give us your torpedo and 
we’ll do the rest!” 



The Sturgeon sat thinking for a long time, 
scratching his chin with one of his fins. At 
last he answered: 

“As for the torpedo, all right! You can 
have it in spite of what you did to my eldest 
son’s first-born. But there’s one trouble: 
who knows how to work the thing?” 

The alligators were all silent. Not one of 
them had ever seen a torpedo. 

“Well,” said the Sturgeon, proudly, “I 
can see I’ll have to go with you myself. I’ve 
lived next to that torpedo a long time. I 
know all about torpedoes.” 

The first task was to bring the torpedo 
down to the dam. The alligators got into 
line, the one behind taking in his mouth the 
tail of the one in front. When the line was 
formed it was fully a quarter of a mile long. 
The Sturgeon pushed the torpedo out into 
the current, and got under it so as to hold it 
up near the top of the water on his back. 
Then he took the tail of the last alligator in 
his teeth, and gave the signal to go ahead. 



The Sturgeon kept the torpedo afloat, while 
the alligators towed him along. In this way 
they went so fast that a wide wake followed 
on after the torpedo; and by the next morning 
they were back at the place where the dam 
was made. 

As the little alligators who had stayed at 
home reported, the warship had already gone 
by upstream. But this pleased the others 
all the more. Now they would build a new 
dam, stronger than ever before, and catch 
the steamer in a trap, so that it would never 
get home again. 

They worked all that day and all the next 
night, making a thick, almost solid dike, 
with barely enough room between the piles 
for the alligators to stick their heads through. 
They had just finished when the gunboat 
came into view. 

Again the rowboat approached with the 
eight men and their officer. The alligators 
crowded behind the dam in great excitement, 
moving their paws to hold their own with the 


current; for this time, they were down- 

“Hey, alligators!” called the officer. 

“Well?” answered the alligators. 

“Still another dam?” 

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, 

“Get that dam out of there!” 

“No, sir!” 


“We won’t!” 

“Very well! Now you alligators just listen! 
If you won’t be reasonable, we are going to 
knock this dam down, too. But to save you 
the trouble of building a fourth, we are going 
to shoot every blessed alligator around here. 
Yes, every single last alligator, women and 
children, big ones, little ones, fat ones, lean 
ones, and even that old codger sitting there 
with only two teeth left in his jaws!” 

The old alligator understood that the officer 
was trying to insult him with that reference 
eo his two teeth, and he answered: 



“Young man, what you say is true. I 
have only two teeth left, not counting one or 
two others that are broken off. But do you 
know what those two teeth are going to eat for 
dinner?” As he said this the old alligator 
opened his mouth wide, wide, wide. 

“Well, what are they going to eat?” asked 
one of the sailors. 

“A little dude of a naval officer I see in a 
boat over there!” — and the old alligator dived 
under water and disappeared from view. 

Meantime the Sturgeon had brought the 
torpedo to the very center of the dam, where 
four alligators were holding it fast to the 
river bottom waiting for orders to bring it 
up to the top of the water. The other alli- 
gators had gathered along the shore, with 
their noses and eyes alone in sight as usual. 

The rowboat went back to the ship. When 
he saw the men climbing aboard, the Sturgeon 
went down to his torpedo. 

Suddenly there was a loud detonation. 
The warship had begun firing, and the first 


shell struck and exploded in the middle of 
the dam. A great gap opened in it. 

“Now! Now!” called the Sturgeon sharply, 
on seeing that there was room for the torpedo 
to go through. ‘ ‘ Let her go ! Let her go !” 

As the torpedo came to the surface, the 
Sturgeon steered it to the opening in the dam, 
took aim hurriedly with one eye closed, and 
pulled at the trigger of the torpedo with his 
teeth. The propeller of the torpedo began to 
revolve, and it started off upstream toward 
the gunboat. 

And it was high time. At that instant a 
second shot exploded in the dam, tearing 
away another large section. 

From the wake the torpedo left behind it in 
the water the men on the vessel saw the danger 
they were in, but it was too late to do anything 
about it. The torpedo struck the ship in tkie 
middle, and went off. 

You can never guess the terrible noise that 
torpedo made. It blew the warship into 
fifteen thousand million pieces, tossing gui 3 , 



and smokestacks, and shells and rowboats — 
everything, hundreds and hundreds of yards 

The alligators all screamed with triumph 
and made as fast as they could for the dam. 
Down through the opening bits of wood came 
floating, with a number of sailors swimming 
as hard as they could for the shore. As the 
men passed through, the alligators put their 
paws to their mouths and holloed, as the 
men had done to them three days before. 
They decided not to eat a single one of the 
sailors, though some of them deserved it 
without a doubt. Except that when a man 
dressed in a blue uniform with gold braid 
came by, the old alligator jumped into the 
water off the dam, and snap! snap! ate him in 
two mouthfuls. 

“Who was that man?” asked an ignorant 
young alligator, who never learned his les- 
sons in school and never knew what was 
going on. 

“It’s the officer of the boat,” answered the 


Sturgeon. “My old friend, Ally, said he 
was going to eat him, and eaten him he 

The alligators tore down the rest of the 
dam, because they knew that no boats would 
be coming by that way again. 

The Sturgeon, who had quite fallen in love 
with the gold lace of the officer, asked that it 
be given him in payment for the use of his 
torpedo. The alligators said he might have 
it for the trouble of picking it out of the old 
alligator’s mouth, where it had caught on the 
two teeth. They gave him also the officer’s 
belt and sword. The Sturgeon put the belt 
on just behind his front fins, and buckled 
the sword to it. Thus togged out, he swam 
up and down for more than an hour in front of 
the assembled alligators, who admired his 
beautiful spotted skin as something almost 
as pretty as the coral snake’s, and who opened 
their mouths wide at the splendor of his 
uniform. Finally they escorted him in honor 
back to his cave under the river bank, thank- 


ing him over and over again, and giving him 
three cheers as they went off. 

When they returned to their usual place 
they found the fish had already returned. The 
next day another steamboat came by; but the 
alligators did not care, because the fish were 
getting used to it by this time and seemed 
not to be afraid. Since then the boats have 
been going back and forth all the time, carry- 
ing oranges. And the alligators open their 
eyes when they hear the chug! chug! chug! of 
a steamboat and laugh at the thought of how 
scared they were the first time, and of how 
they sank the warship. 

But no warship has ever gone up the river 
since the old alligator ate the officer. 




Once the snakes decided that they would 
give a costume ball; and to make the affair 
a truly brilliant one they sent invitations 
to the frogs, the toads, the alligators and the 

The fish replied that since they had no 
legs they would not be able to do much danc- 
ing; whereupon, as a special courtesy to them, 
the ball was held on the shore of the Parana. 
The fish swam up to the very beach and sat 
looking on with their heads out of water. 
When anything pleased them they splashed 
with their tails. 

To make as good an appearance as possible, 
the alligators put necklaces of bananas around 
their throats; and they came to the ball 
smoking big Paraguay cigars. The toads 
stuck fish scales all over their bodies; and 
when they walked, they moved their forelegs 



out and in as though they were swimming. 
They strutted up and down the beach with 
very glum, determined faces ; and the fish kept 
calling to them, making fun of their scales. 
The frogs were satisfied to leave their smooth 
green skins just as they were; but they bathed 
themselves in perfume and walked on their 
hind legs. Besides, each one carried a light- 
ning bug, which waved to and fro like a lantern, 
at the end of a string in the frog’s hand. 

But the best costumes of all were worn by 
the snakes. All of them, without exception, 
had dancing gowns of the color of their skins. 
There were red snakes, and brown snakes, and 
pink snakes, and yellow snakes — each with a 
garment of tulle to match. The yarara, who 
is a kind of rattler, came in a single-piece 
robe of gray tulle with brick-colored stripes — 
for that is the way the yarara dresses even 
when he is not going to a ball. The coral 
snakes were prettier still. They draped them- 
selves in a gauze of reds, whites and blacks; 
and when they danced, they wound them- 


selves round and round like corkscrews, rising 
on the tips of their tails, coiling and uncoiling, 
balancing this way and that. They were the 
most graceful and beautiful of all the snakes, 
and the guests applauded them wildly. 

The flamingoes were the only ones who 
seemed not to be having a good time. Stupid 
birds that they were, they had not thought 
of any costumes at all. They came with the 
plain white legs they had at that time and the 
thick, twisted bills they have even now. 
Naturally they were envious of all the gowns 
they saw, but most of all, of the fancy dress of 
the coral snakes. Every time one of these 
went by them, courtesying, pirouetting, bal- 
ancing, the flamingoes writhed with jealousy. 
For no one, meanwhile, was asking them to 

“I know what we must do,” said one of the 
flamingoes at last. “We must go and get 
some stockings for our legs — pink, black and 
white like the coral snakes themselves — then 
they will all fall in love with us!” 



The whole flock of them took wing immedi- 
ately and flew across the river to a village 
nearby. They went to the store and knocked : 

“Tan! Tan! Tan!” 

“Who is it?” called the storekeeper. 

“We’re the flamingoes. We have come to 
get some stockings — pink, black, and white.” 

“Are you crazy?” the storekeeper answered. 
“I keep stockings for people, not for silly 
birds. Besides, stockings of such colors! You 
won’t find any in town, either!” 

Jhe flamingoes went on to another store: 

“Tan! Tan! Tan! We are looking for stock- 
ings — pink, black and white. Have you any?” 

“Pink, black and white stockings! Don’t 
you know decent people don’t wear such 
things? You must be crazy! Who are you, 

“We are the flamingoes,” the flamingoes 

“In that case you are silly flamingoes! 
Better go somewhere else!” 

They went to still a third store: 



“Tan! Tan! Pink, black and white stock- 
ings! Got any?” 

“Pink, black and white nonsense!” called 
the storekeeper. “Only birds with big noses 
like yours could ask for such a thing. Don’t 
make tracks on my floor!” 

And the man swept them into the street 
with a broom. 

So the flamingoes went from store to store, 
and everywhere people called them silly, stupid 

However, an owl, a mischievous tatu, who 
had just been down to the river to get some 
water, and had heard all about the ball and 
the flamingoes, met them on his way back and 
thought he would have some fun with them. 

“Good evening, good evening, flamingoes,” 
he said, making a deep bow, though, of course, 
it was just to ridicule the foolish birds. “I 
know what you are looking for. I doubt if 
you can get any such stockings in town. You 
might find them in Buenos Aires; but you 
would have to order them by mail. My 


sister-in-law, the barn owl, has stockings like 
that, however. Why don’t you go around and 
see her? She can give you her own and 
borrow others from her family.” 

“Thanks! Thanks, ever so much!” said 
the flamingoes; and they flew off to the cellar 
of a bam where the barn owl lived. 

“Tan! Tan! Good evening, Mrs. Owl,” 
they said. “A relation of yours, Mr. Tatu, 
advised us to call on you. Tonight, as you 
know, the snakes are giving a costume ball, 
and we have no costumes. If you could lend 
us your pink, black and white stockings, the 
coral snakes would be sure to fall in love with 

“Pleased to accommodate you,” said the 
barn owl. “Will you wait just a moment?” 

She flew away and was gone some time. 
When she came back she had the stockings 
with her. But they were not real stockings. 
They were nothing but skins from coral 
snakes which the owl had caught and eaten 
during the previous days. 



“Perhaps these will do,” she remarked. 
“But if you wear them at the ball, I advise 
you to do strictly as I say: dance all night 
long, and don’t stop a moment. For if 
you do, you will get into trouble, I assure 

The flamingoes listened to what she said; 
but, stupidly, did not try to guess what she 
could have meant by such counsel. They saw 
no danger in the pretty stockings. Delight- 
edly they doubled up their claws like fists, 
stuck them through the snakeskins, which 
were like so many long rubber tubes, and 
flew back as quickly as they could to the ball. 

When the guests at the dance saw the 
flamingoes in such handsome stockings, they 
were as jealous as could be. You see, the 
coral snakes were the lions of the evening, 
and after the flamingoes came back, they 
would dance with no one but the flamingoes. 
Remembering the instructions of the barn 
owl, the flamingoes kept their feet going all 
the time, and the snakes could not see very 



clearly just what those wonderful stockings 

After a time, however, they grew suspicious. 
When a flamingo came dancing by, the snakes 
would get down off the ends of their tails to 
examine its feet more closely. The coral 
snakes, more than anybody else, began to 
get uneasy. They could not take their eyes 
off those stockings, and they got as near as 
they could, trying to touch the legs of the 
flamingoes with the tips of their tongues — for 
snakes use their tongues to feel with, much as 
people use their hands. But the flamingoes 
kept dancing and dancing all the while, 
though by this time they were getting so tired 
they were about ready to give up. 

The coral snakes understood that sooner 
or later the flamingoes would have to stop. 
So they borrowed the lightning bugs from 
the frogs, to be ready when the flamingoes fell 
from sheer exhaustion. 

And in fact, it was not long before one of 
the birds, all tired out, tripped over the cigar 



in an alligator’s mouth, and fell down on her 
side. The coral snakes all ran toward her 
with their lanterns, and held the lightning 
bugs up so close that they could see the feet 
of the flamingo as clearly as could be. 

“Aha! Aha! Stockings, eh? Stockings, 
eh?’ ’ The coral snakes began to hiss so loudly 
that people could hear them on the other side 
of the Parana. 

The cry was taken up by all the snakes: 
“They are not wearing stockings! We know 
what they have done! The flamingoes have 
been killing brothers of ours, and they are 
wearing their skins as stockings! Those 
pretty legs each stand for the murder of a 
coral snake!” 

At this uproar, the flamingoes took fright 
and tried to fly away. But they were so 
tired from all the dancing that not one of 
them could move a wing. The coral snakes 
darted upon them, and began to bite at their 
legs, tearing off the false stockings bit by 
bit, and, in their rage, sinking their fangs 



deep into the feet and legs of the flamin- 

The flamingoes, terrified and mad with 
pain, hopped this way and that, trying to 
shake their enemies off. But the snakes did 
not let go till every last shred of stocking had 
been torn away. Then they crawled off, to 
rearrange their gauze costumes that had been 
much rumpled in the fray. They did not try 
to kill the flamingoes then and there; for 
most coral snakes are poisonous; and they 
were sure the birds they had bitten would die 
sooner or later anyway. 

But the flamingoes did not die. They 
hopped down to the river and waded out into 
the water to relieve their pain. Their feet and 
legs, which had been white before, had now 
turned red from the poison in the bites. They 
stood there for days and days, trying to cool 
the burning ache, and hoping to wash out the 

But they did not succeed. And they have 
not succeeded yet. The flamingoes still pass 

‘The flamingoes . . . hopped down to the river, and waded 
out ... to relieve their pain.” 








most of their time standing on their red legs 
out in the water. Occasionally they go ashore 
and walk up and down for a few moments to 
see if they are getting well. But the pain 
comes again at once, and they hurry back 
into the water. Even there they sometimes 
feel an ache in one of their feet; and they lift 
it out to warm it in their feathers. They stand 
that way on one leg for hours, I suppose be- 
cause the other one is so stiff and lame. 

That is why the flamingoes have red legs 
instead of white. And the fishes know it too. 
They keep coming up to the top of the water 
and crying “Red legs! Red legs! Red legs!” 
to make fun of the flamingoes for having tried 
to borrow costumes for a ball. On that 
account, the flamingoes are always at war 
with the fishes. As they wade up and down, 
and a fish comes up too close in order to 
shout “Red legs” at them, they dip their 
long bills down and catch it if they can. 




In a beehive once there was a bee who would 
not work. She would go flying from blossom 
to blossom on the orange trees sucking out 
all the honey. But instead of taking it back 
to the hive she would eat it then and there. 

She was a lazy bee. Every morning, the 
moment the sun had warmed the hive, she 
would come to the door and look out. On 
making sure that it was a lovely day, she 
would wash her face and comb her hair with 
her paws, the way flies do, and then go flitting 
off, as pleased as could be at the bright 
weather. So she would go buzzing and buzz- 
ing from flower to flower; and then after a 
time she would go back and see what the 
other bees were doing in the hive. So it 
would go on all day long. 

Meantime the other bees would be working 
themselves to death trying to fill the hive 
full of honey; for honey is what they give 



the little bees to eat as soon as they are bom. 
And these worker bees, very staid, respectable, 
earnest bees, began to scowl at the conduct of 
this shirker of a sister they had. 

You must know that, at the door of every 
beehive, there are always a number of bees 
on watch, to see that no insects but bees get 
into the hive. These policemen, as a rule, 
are old bees, with a great deal of experience 
in life. Their backs are quite bald, because 
all the hair gets worn off from rubbing 
against the hive as they walk in and out of 
the door. 

One day when the lazy bee was j ust dr opping 
in to see what was going on in the hive, these 
policemen called her to one side: 

“Sister,” said they, “it is time you did a 
little work. All us bees have to work!” 

The little bee was quite scared when the 
policemen spoke to her, but she answered: 

“I go flying about all day long, and get 
very tired!” 

“We didn’t ask you how tired you got! 



We want to see how much work you can do! 
This is Warning Number 1 !” 

And they let her go on into the hive. 

But the lazy little bee did not mend her 
ways. On the next evening the policemen 
stopped her again: 

“Sister, we didn’t see you working to- 

The little bee was expecting something of 
the kind, and she had been thinking up what 
she would say all the way home. 

“I’ll go to work one of these days,” she 
spoke up promptly; and with a cheerful, 
winsome smile. 

“We don’t want you to go to work one of 
these days,” they answered gruffly. “We 
want you to go to work tomorrow morning. 
This is Warning Number 2!” 

And they let her in. 

The following night, when the lazy bee 
came home, she did not wait for the policemen 
to stop her. She went up to them sorrowfully 
and said: 



“Yes, yes! I remember what I promised. 
I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to work today!” 

“We didn’t ask how sorry you were, nor 
what you had promised. What we want 
from you is work. Today is the nineteenth 
of April. Tomorrow will be the twentieth 
of April. See to it that the twentieth of 
April does not pass without your putting at 
least one load of honey into the hive. This is 
Warning Number 3! You may enter!” 

And the policemen who had been blocking 
the door stepped aside to let her in. 

The lazy bee woke up with very good in- 
tentions the next morning; but the sun was 
so warm and bright and the flowers were so 
beautiful! The day passed the same as all 
the others; except that toward evening the 
weather changed. The sun went down behind 
a great bank of clouds and a strong icy wind 
began to blow. 

The lazy little bee started for home as fast 
as she could, thinking how warm and cozy it 
would be inside the hive, with all that storm 



blowing out of doors. But on the porch of the 
beehive the policemen got in front of her. 

“Where are you going, young lady?” said 

“I am going in to bed. This is where I 

“You must be mistaken,” said the police- 
men. “Only busy worker bees live here! 
Lazy bees are not allowed inside this door!” 

“Tomorrow, surely, surely, surely, I am 
going to work,” said the little bee. 

“There is no tomorrow for lazy bees,” said 
the policemen; for they were old, wise bees, 
and knew philosophy. “Away with you!” 
And they pushed her off the doorstep. 

The little bee did not know what to do. 
She flew around for a time; but soon it began 
to grow dark; the wind blew colder and 
colder, and drops of rain began to fall. Quite 
tired at last, she took hold of a leaf, intending 
to rest a moment; but she was chilled and 
numbed by the cold. She could not hang 
on, and fell a long distance to the ground. 



She tried to get to her wings again, but 
they were too tired to work. So she started 
crawling over the ground toward the hive. 
Every stone, every stick she met, she had to 
climb over with great effort — so many hi lls 
and mountains they seemed to such a tiny 
bee. The raindrops were coming faster when, 
almost dead with cold and fright and fatigue, 
she arrived at the door of the hive. 

“Oh, oh,” she moaned. “Iam cold, and it 
is going to rain! I shall be sure to die out 
here!” And she crept up to the door. 

But the fierce policemen again stopped her 
from going in. 

“Forgive me, sisters,” the little bee said. 
“Please, let me go in!” 

“Too late! Too late!” they answered. 

“Please, sisters, I am so sleepy!” said the 
little bee. 

“Too late! Too late!” said they. 

“Please, sisters, I am cold!” said the little 

“Sorry! You can’t go in!” said they. 

, 136 


“Please, sisters, for one last time! I shall 
die out here!” 

“You won’t die, lazy bee! One night will 
teach you the value of a warm bed earned by 
honest labor ! Away from here !’ ’ 

And they pushed her off the doorstep 

By this time it was raining hard. The 
little bee felt her wings and fur getting wetter 
and wetter; and she was so cold and sleepy 
she did not know what to do. She crawled 
along as fast as she could over the ground, 
hoping to come to some place where it was 
dry and not so cold. At last she came to a 
tree and began to walk up the trunk. 
Suddenly, just as she had come to the crotch 
of two branches, she fell! She fell a long, long 
distance and landed finally on something 
soft. There was no wind and no rain blowing. 
On coming to her wits the little bee understood 
that she had fallen down through a hole inside 
a hollow tree. 

And now the little bee had the fright of her 



life. Coiled up near her there was a snake, a 
green snake with a brick-colored back. That 
hollow tree was the snake’s house; and the 
snake lay there looking at her with eyes that 
shone even in that darkness. Now, snakes 
eat bees, and like them. So when this little 
bee found herself so close to a fearful enemy of 
her kind, she just closed her eyes and mur- 
mured to herself: 

“This is the last of me! Oh, how I wish I 
had worked!” 

To her great surprise, however, the 
snake not only did not eat her, but spoke 
to her rather softly for such a terrible 

“How do you do, little bee? You must be 
a naughty little bee, to be out so late at 

“Yes,” she murmured, her heart in her 
throat. “I have been a naughty bee. I did 
not work, and they won’t let me in to go to 
my bed!” 

“In that case, I shall not be so sorry to 



eat you !’ ’ answered the snake. ‘ ‘Surely there 
can be no harm at all in depriving the world 
of a useless little bee like you! I won’t have 
to go out for dinner tonight. I shall eat 
you right here!” 

The little bee was about as scared as a bee 
can be. 

“That is not fair,” she said. “It is not 
just! You have no right to eat me just because 
you are bigger than I am. Go and ask people 
if that isn’t so! People know what is right 
and wrong!” 

“Ah, ah!” said the snake, lifting his head 
higher, “so you have a good opinion of men? 
So you think that the men who steal your 
honey are more honest than snakes who eat 
you? You are not only a lazy bee. You are 
also a silly one!” 

“It is not because men are dishonest that 
they take our honey,” said the bee. 

“Why is it then?” said the snake. 

“It’s because they are more intelligent 
than we are!” That is what the bee said; 



but the snake just laughed; and then he 

“Well, if you must have it that way, it’s 
because I’m more intelligent than you that 
I’m going to eat you now! Get ready to be 
eaten, lazy bee!” 

And the snake drew back to strike, and lap 
up the bee at one gobble. 

But the little bee had time to say: 

“It’s because you’re duller than I am that 
you eat me!” 

“Duller than you?” asked the snake, let- 
ting his head down again. “How is that, 

“However it is, it’s so!” 

“I’ll have to be shown!” said the snake. 
“I will make a bargain with you. We will 
each do a trick; and the cleverest trick wins. 
If I win, I’ll eat you!” 

“And if I win?” asked the little bee. 

“If you win,” said the snake after some 
thought, “you may stay in here where it is 
warm all night. Is it a bargain?” 



“It is,” said the bee. 

The snake considered another moment or 
so and then began to laugh. He had thought 
of something a bee could not possibly do. He 
darted out of a hole in the tree so quickly the 
bee had scarcely time to wonder what he was 
up to; and just as quickly he came back with 
a seed pod from the eucalyptus tree that 
stood near the beehive and shaded it on days 
when the sun was hot. Now the seed pods 
of the eucalyptus tree are just the shape of a 
top; in fact, the boys and girls in Argentina 
call them “ tops ” — trompitosl 

“Now you just watch and see what I’m 
a-going to do,” said the snake. “Watch 
now! Watch! . . .” 

The snake wound the thin part of his tail 
around the top like a string; then, with a jump 
forward to his full length, he straightened his 
tail out. The “top” began to spin like mad 
on the bark floor there at the bottom of the 
hollow tree; and it spun and spun and spun, 
dancing, jumping, running off in this direction 


and then in that direction. And the snake 
laughed ! And he laughed and he laughed and 
he laughed! No bee would ever be able to do 
a thing like that! 

Finally the top got tired of spinning and 
fell over on its side. 

“That is very clever!” said the bee, “I 
could never do that!” 

“In that case, I shall have to eat you!” 
said the snake. 

“Not just yet, please,” said the bee. “I 
can’t spin a top; but I can do something no 
one else can do!” 

“What is that?” asked the snake. 

“I can disappear!” said the bee. 

“What do you mean, disappear?” said 
the snake, with some interest. “Disappear so 
that I can’t see you and without going away 
from here?” 

“Without going away from here!” 

“Without hiding in the ground?” 

“Without hiding in the ground!” 

“I give up!” said the snake. “Disap- 


pear! But if you don’t do as you say, I eat 
you, gobble, gobble, just like that!” 

N ow you must know that while the top was 
spinning round and round, the little bee 
had noticed something on the floor of the 
hollow tree she had not seen before: it was a 
little shrub, three or four inches high, with 
leaves about the size of a fifty-cent piece. She 
now walked over to the stem of this little 
shrub, taking care, however, not to touch it 
with her body. Then she said : 

“Now it is my turn, Mr. Snake. Won’t 
you be so kind as to turn around, and count 
“one,” “two,” “three.” At the word “three,” 
you can look for me everywhere! I simply 
won’t be around!” 

The snake looked the other way and ran off 
a “onetathree,” then turning around with 
his mouth wide open to have his dinner at last. 
You see, he counted so fast just to give the 
bee as little time as possible, under the con- 
tract they had made. 

But if he opened his mouth wide for his 



dinner, he held it open in complete surprise. 
There was no bee to be found anywhere! He 
looked on the floor. He looked on the sides 
of the hollow tree. He looked in each nook 
and cranny. He looked the little shrub all 
over. Nothing! The bee had simply dis- 

Now, the snake understood that if his trick 
of spinning the top with his tail was ex- 
traordinary, this trick of the bee was almost 
miraculous. Where had that good-for-nothing 
lazybones gone to? Here? No! There? No! 
Where then? Nowhere! There was no way to 
find the little bee! 

“Well,” said the snake at last, “I give up! 
Where are you?” 

A little voice seemed to come from a long 
way off, but still from the middle of the space 
inside the hollow tree. 

“You won’t eat me if I reappear?” it said. 

“No, I won’t eat you!” said the snake. 


“I promise! But where are you?” 


“Here I am,” said the bee, coming out on 
one of the leaves of the little shrub. 

It was not such a great mystery after all. 
That shrub was a Sensitive-plant, a plant 
that is very common in South America, espe- 
cially in the North of the Republic of Argen- 
tina, where Sensitive-plants grow to quite a 
good size. The peculiarity of the Sensitive- 
plant is that it shrivels up its leaves at the 
slightest contact. The leaves of this shrub were 
unusually large, as is true of the Sensitive- 
plants around the city of Misiones. You see, 
the moment the bee lighted on a leaf, it folded 
up tight about her, hiding her completely 
from view. Now, the snake had been living 
next to that plant all the season long, and had 
never noticed anything unusual about it. 
The little bee had paid attention to such 
things, however; and her knowledge this 
time had saved her life. 

The snake was very much ashamed at being 
bested by such a little bee; and he was not 
very nice about it either. So much so, in 


fact, that the bee spent most of the night 
reminding him of the promise he had made 
not to eat her. 

And it was a long, endless night for the 
little bee. She sat on the floor in one comer 
and the snake coiled up in the other corner 
opposite. Pretty soon it began to rain so 
hard that the water came pouring in through 
the hole at the top of the tree and made quite 
a puddle on the floor. The bee sat there and 
shivered and shivered; and every so often 
the snake would raise his head as though to 
swallow her at one gulp. “You promised! 
You promised! You promised!” And the 
snake would lower his head, sheepishlike, 
because he did not want the bee to think him 
a dishonest, as well as a stupid snake. 

The little bee, who had been used to a 
warm hive at home and to warm sunlight out 
of doors, had never dreamed there could be 
so much cold anywhere as there was in that 
hollow tree. Nor had there ever been a 
night so long! 



But the moment there was a trace of day- 
light at the hole in the top of the tree, the bee 
bade the snake good-by and crawled out. 
She tried her wings; and this time they 
worked all right. She flew in a bee-line 
straight for the door of the hive. 

The policemen were standing there and she 
began to cry. But they simply stepped aside 
without saying a word, and let her in. They 
understood, you see, as wise old bees, that 
this wayward child was not the lazy bee they 
had driven away the evening before, but a 
sadder and wiser child who now knew some- 
thing about the world she had to live in. 

And they were right. Never before was 
there such a bee for working from morning 
till night, day in, day out, gathering pollen 
and honey from the flowers. When Autumn 
came she was the most respected bee in the 
hive and she was appointed teacher of the 
young bees who would do the work the fol- 
lowing year. And her first lesson was some- 
thing like this: 



“It is not because bees are intelligent but 
because they work that makes them such 
wonderful little things. I used my intelli- 
gence only once — and that was to save my 
life. I should not have gotten into that 
trouble, however, if I had worked, like all 
the other bees. I used to waste my strength 
just flying around doing nothing. I should 
not have been any more tired if I had worked. 
What I needed was a sense of duty; and I 
got it that night I spent with the snake in the 
hollow tree. 

“Work, my little bees, work! — remember- 
ing that what we are all working for, the happi- 
ness of everybody, will be hard enough to get 
if each of us does his full duty. This is what 
people say, and it is just as true of bees. 
Work well and faithfully and you will be 
happy. There is no sounder philosophy for 
a man or for a bee!” 




Once there was a man who lived in Buenos 
Aires and was a friend of the superintendent 
of the Zoo. This man had a very happy life, 
because he worked hard and enjoyed good 
health. But one day he fell ill, and the 
doctors told him he would never get well 
unless he left town and went to live in the 
country where there was good air and a warm 
climate. The man could not think of such a 
thing, however. He had five little brothers, 
and both his parents were dead. He had to 
provide the little boys with food and clothes, 
and get them ready for school in the morning. 
Who would care for them, if he went away? 
So he kept on with his work and his illness 
grew worse and worse. 

One day a man from the Zoo met him on the 
street and said: 

“You ought to go and live an out-of-door 



life for a while. Now, I have an idea. We 
need a collection of new specimens for our 
museum, and you are a good shot with a gun. 
Wouldn’t you like to go up into the Andes 
and hunt for us? I will pay for your outfit, 
and get a woman to look after your little 
brothers. It will not cost you very much, 
and there will be plenty of money left for the 

The sick man gladly accepted. He went 
off to the mountains, many, many miles 
beyond Misiones, where he camped in the 
open air and soon began to get better. 

He lived quite by himself, doing his own 
cooking, washing his own clothes, and making 
his own bed, which was a bag with blankets in 
it. He did not use a tent, but slept in the 
bag out under the stars. When it rained he 
would throw up a shelter of branches, cover 
it with his waterproof, and sit down all cozy 
underneath, till the storm cleared. He ate 
partridges and venison, with the berries and 
wild fruits he found along the mountains. 



Whenever he saw some rare animal that the 
Zoo would want, he shot it, and dried its skin 
in the sun. In course of time, he made a big 
bundle of such skins, which he carried on his 
shoulder whenever he moved his camp to a 
new place. Many beautifully spotted snakes 
he was able to catch alive; and these he kept 
in a big hollow gourd — for in South America 
wild squashes and pumpkins grow till they 
are as large as gasoline cans. 

All this was very hard work but the man 
grew strong and healthy again. And what an 
appetite he had when supper time came 
around! One day when his provisions were 
getting low, he went out hunting with his 
gun. Soon he came to a wide lake, and what 
should he see on the shore but a huge panther 
that had caught a tortoise ! The fierce animal 
had drawn the turtle up out of the water and 
was clawing between the two shells trying to 
scratch the meat out. As the man approached, 
the panther turned and, with a great roar, 
leaped toward him. The panther was not 



quick enough, however, for a bullet from the 
man’s rifle caught him between the eyes and 
laid him low in his tracks. 

“What a wonderful rug this skin will make 
for somebody!” the man exclaimed; and he 
carefully removed the hide and rolled it up to 
take home. 

“I think I will have turtle soup for supper 
tonight,” the man continued as he turned 
toward the tortoise; for turtle-flesh is one of 
the richest and sweetest of all meats. 

But he could not help feeling very sorry for 
the poor turtle when he saw what a plight she 
was in. The panther’s claws had tom the flesh 
terribly; and a great gash in her throat had 
all but left her head severed from the rest of 
the body. Instead of killing the wounded 
turtle the hunter thought he would try to 
cure her of her hurts. 

The camp was some distance away and the 
man was very tired. Besides, when he tried 
to lift the tortoise, he found she weighed nearly 
two hundred pounds. Finally he put a rope 



• • • 

“He could not help feeling sorry for the poor turtle 



around her, and pulled and hauled till he 
dragged her along over the grass back to the 

The man had no extra pieces of cloth to 
make a bandage with, so he cut off a piece of 
his shirt and took the lining out of his coat. 
Finally he managed to bind up the tortoise’s 
throat and stop the bleeding. Then he 
pushed her into a comer of the shelter, where 
she lay motionless for days and days. Twice 
a day the man would come and wash the 
wound with water and liniment. When he 
thought the cut had healed, he took off the 
wrapping and the tortoise drew her head into 
her shell. The man kept visiting her every 
morning, however, tapping gently on the 
turtle’s back to wake her up. 

The tortoise got entirely well; but then 
something terrible happened. The man 
caught a fever in the swamps around the lake, 
and chills and pains began to wrack his body. 
One morning he could not get out of his sleep- 
ing bag, but just lay there groaning. His 



fever got rapidly worse, and a parching thirst 
burned at his throat. In his delirium he 
began to talk out loud: “Here I am all alone, 
away out here in the woods. I am surely 
going to die. There is no one even to bring 
me a drink of water.” 

But the tortoise, all this time, had not been 
sleeping so soundly as the man had thought. 
In fact, she had been slyly watching him as he 
worked about the camp. When the hunter 
did not get up that morning, the tortoise 
understood that something was wrong, and 
also that it was water he kept calling for. 

“This man,” thought the tortoise, “did 
not eat me that day, though he had me in his 
power and was hungry. Instead, he took 
care of me till I was well. A good tortoise 
ought surely to do as much for him!” 

The big turtle — she stood as high as a 
chair and weighed, as I said, as much as a 
man — crawled off to the lakeside. There 
she hunted around till she found a small 
tortoise shell. She polished it with sand 



till it was bright and shiny. Then she filled 
it with pure cold water from a spring, crawled 
back to camp with it, and gave the man a 

“Now for something to eat,” said the 

Turtles know the most peculiar kinds of 
roots and grasses to eat when they are sick. 
This tortoise went out and gathered a supply 
of such herbs and fed them to the man; and 
he ate them without noticing who was finding 
his food for him, so nearly unconscious was he 
in his delirium. So day after day the tortoise 
went hunting and hunting over the mountain 
sides, looking for tenderer and tenderer grasses 
with stronger and stronger juices. And how 
sorry she was she could not climb trees where 
such fine berries and fruits were hanging! 

Thus the hunter lay for a week or more, 
struggling between life and death and kept 
alive only by the herbs the tortoise brought 
him. And then one day, to the joy of the 
faithful animal, the man sat up in his sleeping 


bag. The fever had left him and his mind 
was clear. He looked around in surprise to 
see the water and a bundle of grasses near 
him; for he was quite alone, save for the big 
turtle that still seemed to be sleeping in her 

“Alas, I am lost!” he moaned. “No one 
will ever come to me. The fever will return, 
and I cannot get any medicine nearer than 
Buenos Aires. If I could walk, I might get 
there; but I can’t, so I must die!” 

And, just as he feared, the fever did return 
that evening worse than before; and the man 
fell back into unconsciousness. 

But again the turtle had understood: “Yes, 
he will die, if he stays here! I must get him to 
Buenos Aires where there is some medicine!” 

Carefully she dragged the bundle of skins 
up to the man and placed it in position on his 
body. Then she did the same with the gourd 
full of snakes. And what a task it was to 
get the gun in place on top of the whole pile! 
Finally she went out into the woods and bit 



off a number of tough, strong vines. These 
she stretched across the sleeping man and 
tied to his arms and legs in such a way as 
to keep the baggage from falling off. She 
dug her way under the sleeping bag till every- 
thing was balanced on her back; and then 
she started off toward Buenos Aires. 

She crawled along for ten or twelve hours 
each day, swimming rivers and ponds, sinking 
deep into the mud of bogs, climbing hills and 
crossing sandy plains where the sun at mid- 
day scorched terribly. In his fever the man 
kept calling for water; and it was very trying 
to the poor tortoise to have to get the man off 
her back each time while she went looking for 
a drink for him. But she struggled forward 
just the same, and each night she knew she 
was that much nearer to Buenos Aires. 

But the tortoise, after days and days of this 
toil, understood that her own strength was 
giving out. She did not complain, but she 
began to be afraid that she would die before 
getting the hunter to a place of safety. And 


one morning, in fact, she was so tired she was 
quite unable to move. 

“Here I am dying all alone in the woods!” 
the man moaned from his bag. “No one 
will help me get to Buenos Aires! Oh, oh, I 
shall die here all alone!” 

You see, the man had been unconscious all 
the time, and thought he was still lying in the 
shelter, away back in the mountains. 

The words stirred the weary tortoise to 
fresh effort. She got the man up on her back 
again and went on. 

But the moment came when she could not 
take another step forward. She had not been 
eating for some days, because she had not 
dared take the time for hunting. Now she 
was too weak to do even that. So she drew 
her legs into her shell and closed her eyes, 
waiting for death to come, and mourning 
inside her turtle-heart that she had failed in 
saving the life of the man who had befriended 

The sun went down and night fell. As the 


turtle chanced to open her eyes, she was sur- 
prised to see a reddish glow on the distant hori- 
zon ; and she heard a voice — the voice of a wharf 
rat — talking near by. The rat was saying: 

“My, what a turtle, what a turtle! I 
never saw such a big one in my life! And 
what is that on her back? A cord of wood?” 

The poor turtle did not know that those 
lights came from Buenos Aires, and that the 
rat was a citizen of that town, out for a night’s 
foraging in the fields of the suburbs. 

“It is not a cord of wood,” the turtle 
murmured, “It is a man, a sick man!” 

“And what on earth are you doing here 
with a man on your back?” the rat inquired, 
laughing the way rats from the city laugh at 
their country cousins. 

“I ... I was ...” the tortoise mur- 
mured faintly, “I was taking him to Buenos 
Aires to be cured . . . but I shall never get 
there . . . My strength has given out . . . 
I am going to die . . . we are both going to 
die, right here!” 



“I never saw such a silly turtle!” the rat 
replied. ‘ ‘Don’t you know you’re in Buenos 
Aires now? Don’t you see those lights? 
They’re from the theater district. Go along 
straight ahead; and you’ll get there in no 

This encouraging news filled the tortoise 
with new fife. She strained every muscle 
inside her shell and moved slowly but surely 

When it was daylight she found herself 
quite inside the town. And who should come 
along the street but the superintendent of the 

“My, what a turtle! What a big turtle!” 
he exclaimed. “And what in the world is 
she carrying on her back?” 

The tortoise could not speak from sheer 
fatigue. She stopped, and the man came 
up to examine the strange outfit on her back. 
To his amazement, he recognized his friend in 
the man sleeping, pale and fever-stricken, 
inside the bag. He called a carriage and got 


the man home, sending for a doctor to come 
at once. 

In course of time, the man got well. When 
he learned that the tortoise had brought him 
miles and miles on her back, all the way from 
the Andes to Buenos Aires, he could hardly 
believe the story. And out of gratitude he 
said he would make a home for her the rest of 
her life. His own cottage was quite filled with 
his six little brothers; and there was no room 
for such a big pet in the house. But the 
director of the Zoo said he would find a place 
for her there, and care for her as tenderly as 
he would for his own daughter. 

And that is what happened. The tortoise 
was given a house for herself alone, with a 
tank of water in the front yard, where she 
could swim if she wanted to. She was allowed 
to wander at will over all the gardens of the 
Zoo, though she spent a large part of her time 
near the monkey house, where there was most 
to eat. 

And she is still living there. Go to the 



zoological park any day and you will see an 
enormously big tortoise crawling slowly along 
over the green grass. If you wait long enough 
you will see a man come up, stoop over and 
rap gently with his knuckles on her shell. 

That’s the tortoise we have been talking 
about — and that’s the man! 



How the Rays Defended the Ford. P. 14: Where 
we say “shiner,” the Argentine text has dorado , 
a fish apparently of the salmon family, for which 
the scientific name is salminus platensis . P. 18: 
The river-pig is the carpincho , a river rodent, and 
the largest of all surviving rodents, known to 
zoologists as hydroceros capibara. The carpincho 
can be tamed, and trained to follow its master 
around like a dog. 

The Story of Two Raccoon Cubs and Two Man 
Cubs. Where we say “raccoon” the Spanish text 
has coatl (nasua narica), biologically a relative of 
the bear family. 

The Blind Doe. P. 75: The stingless bees in 
question are those called yatei or miri in the 
Guarani dialect. P. 80: Our “anteater” is the 
variety found in Northern Argentina, there known 
as the oso hormiguero. The Spanish name is 
tamandua , and the scientific, mirmecophaga tri - 

The Alligator War . P. 97: Where we say “wal- 
nut and mahogany” the Argentine text reads 


quebracho and lapacho , hardwood trees known to 
commerce under their Spanish names and common 
in the Chaco region. P. 104: We say “ sturgeon.” 
The word used by Quiroga is surubi , a large South 
American river fish of the torpedo family (; pseudo - 
platy stoma coruscans). 

How the Flamingoes Got Their Stockings. P. 121 : 
The name tatu is applied also to the armadillo. 

The Lazy Bee. P. 143: The sensitive plant in 
question is of the variety called mimosa pudica. 

A. L.